The primary election for state and local candidates is fast approaching: the June 24 polling date is, as of today, less than a month away.
This year, with eight wide-open state-level House and Senate seats and a vacancy on the County Council and for Howard's top seat of county executive, voters have a lot of decisions to make.
This week's political notebook brings you a rundown of the essentials all in one place. For more in-depth information, a profile on each candidate can be found through a quick search on our website at baltimoresun.com/explore/howard.
Of course, in a campaign season in which allotting one sentence per primary candidate is enough to fill a page, quick summaries are bound to leave a lot to be desired – so be sure to check back over the next three weeks for features on key races and more ahead of the primary.
And in the meantime, keep in mind another looming deadline: June 3 at 9 p.m. is the last day to register to vote or make changes to your registration before the primary. To check your status, polling place and what districts you're in, go to https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch.
Neither Democratic candidate Courtney Watson, a County Council member, nor Republican candidate Allan Kittleman, a state senator, has any same-party competition to face in the primaries, but voters can expect to see both sides amp up the campaigning after June.
Only two council districts will have primary races this election, but one of them – District 1 – has more candidates than council seats.
The historically moderate district, which represents Ellicott City, Elkridge and Hanover, has no incumbent candidate now that Watson, the current council member, is running for county executive. Four Democrats and two Republicans have stepped up to fill the void.
Democratic voters have a choice among Jon Weinstein, an Ellicott City businessman who was the first to announce his candidacy and has the lead in funds and endorsements; former Planning Board chair Dave Grabowski, who has strong ties to the Elkridge community; citizen activist Lisa Markovitz, who has been the leader of a push to bring a handful of recent zoning changes to referendum; and Wendy Royalty, an Ellicott City resident and last-minute entrant to the race who has been a social worker in Baltimore City and a public affairs representative for Planned Parenthood.
Republicans in the district will choose between Kevin Forrest Schmidt, the director of government relations for a threat detection software firm, and Fort Meade defense contractor David Melton.
District 2, which encompasses east Columbia and parts of Ellicott City, will have a Republican primary. Reg Avery, who was recently elected to the Columbia Association board, where he represents Oakland Mills, will run against Ralph Colavita, who has yet to be interviewed for a profile but works as a consultant for the energy and water industry, according to his campaign website.
Calvin Ball, the District 2 incumbent and current County Council chair, is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Council member Jen Terrasa, a Democrat who represents the southeast county in District 3, and Council member Mary Kay Sigaty, a Democrat who represents west Columbia in District 4, are running for re-election and have no challengers -- Democrat or Republican – for their seats.
In District 5, the incumbent, Republican Greg Fox, won't face any primary challengers, but he will have a general-election opponent in Alan Schneider, a Clarksville attorney who has been involved in the referendum effort.
Just one incumbent senator and three incumbent delegates are running to retain their current seats, which means there will be a lot of new blood in the Howard delegation when the General Assembly session reconvenes in Annapolis next January.
In District 9, Democrats are hoping to pick up a seat in the west county as Allan Kittleman leaves his state Senate post behind to run for county executive. Two candidates have stepped up: Daniel Medinger, an Ellicott City resident who runs a small media business, will run against Ryan Frederic, who owns three businesses, including Columbia-based Applied Defense Solutions, an aerospace security firm.
The Democratic candidate will run against current District 9A Del. Gail Bates, who doesn't face any primary challengers.
In the House of Delegates, District 9 is broken into two sub-districts: 9A, which will for the first time include portions of Carroll County as well as Howard, and 9B, a new sub-district for Howard after 2012's redistricting process.
In District 9A, which covers parts of Ellicott City, western Howard and some of southern Carroll County, a plethora of Republicans are running for two House seats. One is incumbent Warren Miller, who has represented the district since 2003. The other four Republican candidates include Eric Bouchat, who lives on the Carroll County side of Woodbine and owns a Baltimore-based welding company; Trent Kittleman, former president and CEO of the Maryland Transportation Authority under Gov. Bob Ehrlich and Allan Kittleman's stepmother; Kyle Lorton, a Highland resident and sales director at W.R. Grace & Co.; and Frank Mirabile, a self-employed landscape architect from Woodbine.
Democrats Wally Carson, a Woodbine resident and attorney for the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and James Ward Morrow, an attorney for the American Federation of Government Employees who lives in Ellicott City, are running unopposed in the 9A primary.
In District 9B, which represents Ellicott City, both Democratic and Republican voters have a choice between two candidates for the district's one House seat.
On the Democratic side, former Columbia Association board member, attorney and local blogger Tom Coale is running against veteran Howard County math teacher Rich Corkran. Corkran, who is backed by Howard's Democratic Central Committee, has emphasized his Democratic roots, while Coale, who changed his registration from Republican to Democrat two years ago, has garnered all the district's major endorsements.
Republicans will choose between Carol Loveless, an Ellicott City resident and owner of Quality Security Solutions, and Bob Flanagan, an attorney and former state delegate who served from 1987 until he was appointed transportation secretary by former Gov. Bob Ehrlich in 2003, a job he held until 2007.
District 12 is the county's biggest wild-card race, with 10 Democrats and three Republicans vying for three open House seats in a newly redrawn district that now incorporates parts of both Howard and Baltimore counties, from Catonsville to Columbia.
June 24, Democrats will vote among these 10 candidates to narrow the field by more than a third: Brian Bailey, a Lansdowne native and former chair of the Baltimore County Democratic Party with a history of community advocacy; Jay Fred Cohen, a Columbia resident and former Howard Orphans' Court judge who runs a legal practice in Pikesville; Catonsville resident Rebecca Dongarra, who owns a catering company called Dionysus' Kitchen and volunteers with a variety of local organizations; Eric Ebersole, a lifelong Catonsville resident and teacher in the Howard County Public School System for the past three decades; Mike Gisriel, a Catonsville resident, longtime Annapolis lobbyist and former one-term delegate for the Towson area; Columbia plastic surgeon Terri Hill, the only candidate to be endorsed by all three retiring District 12 delegates as well as District 12 state Sen. Ed Kasemeyer; Clarence Lam, a Columbia resident who works as assistant program director for the residency program at Johns Hopkins University and who has served as the legislative staffer for Baltimore County Del. Dan Morhaim; Catonsville resident Renee McGuirk-Spence, the director of governmental relations for the Maryland State Department of Education; Adam Sachs, a Columbia resident and public relations specialist for the American Association of Nurses; and Arbutus resident Nick Stewart, a former speechwriter for Gov. Martin O'Malley who currently works as an attorney for Baltimore-based Saul Ewing.
District 12's three Republican candidates – Gordon Bull, who lives on the Arbutus/Halethorpe line and runs a small, family-owned plumbing business with his father; Joe Hooe, a Lansdowne resident and owner of a small tire business in Baltimore; and Catonsville lawyer Rick Martel – can look ahead to the general election, where they will have to face the three Democratic winners.
At the Senate level, incumbent state Sen. Ed Kasemeyer, who has represented the district since 1987, with a four-year break from 1991 to 1995, will not face any primary challengers. In the general election, Kasemeyer has an opponent in Jesse Pippy, a Catonsville Republican who works as business manager for regional automotive dealership Mile One.
And in District 13, which covers parts of Columbia, North Laurel, Savage and Fulton, one incumbent will try to move up to the Senate while two House incumbents run to stay put. A third House seat is wide open.
Del. Guy Guzzone, a Democrat who has represented the district since 2007, is running to replace retiring state Sen. Jim Robey. He won't face a primary challenger from within his own party, but in the general election, he will campaign against North Laurel auditor Jody Venkatesan, the Republican candidate.
In the House, Columbia-based Democratic incumbents Frank Turner and Shane Pendergrass have both filed for a sixth term in the House. Three new Democrats have also filed: Oakland Mills community organizer Fred Eiland; Clarksville resident Nayab Siddiqui, an alternate for the county's Democratic Central Committee and founder of Columbia-based Scientific Systems and Software International; and Vanessa Atterbeary, a Fulton attorney who was chosen to round out the incumbent Democrats' "Team 13" slate after School Board member Janet Siddiqui, Nayab's wife, decided to withdraw from the delegate race.
District 13 Republicans won't have a primary race – there are three candidates for three seats: North Laurel residents Danny Eaton and Chris Yates are running alongside University of Maryland junior Jimmy Williams, a Jessup resident.