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News Maryland Howard County Laurel

Few competitors in 2014 for Laurel's incumbent county and state politicians

Laurel's state- and county-level elected officials — with few challengers and, in some cases, no challengers — won't face many obstacles on the path to re-election this year.

Now that the Feb. 25 candidate filing deadline has passed, 2014's political contenders are set. And there aren't very many options for voters outside of the usual field of incumbents.

In District 21, which encompasses most of Laurel and College Park, state Sen. Jim Rosapepe, a Democrat who has represented the area in the Senate since 2007, is running unopposed. Rosapepe was a member of the House of Delegates between 1986 and 1997 before leaving to become ambassador to Romania.

District 21's Democratic delegates will also run unopposed. Dels. Ben Barnes and Joseline Peña-Melnyk have represented the district since 2007, while Del. Barbara Frush has held her seat since 1995.

In District 13, which represents the sliver of Laurel in Howard County, Del. Guy Guzzone, a Democrat, has no Democratic challengers in his bid to replace retiring state Sen. Jim Robey. Guzzone has been a delegate in District 13 since 2007.

On the Republican side, Guzzone will face Jody Venkatesan, a North Laurel auditor and small business owner, in the general election. Venkatesan ran against Robey in 2010.

There is some competition in the District 13 delegate race. Dels. Shane Pendergrass and Frank Turner, both Democrats who have represented District 13 since 1995, have filed to keep their seats. With Guzzone's departure, one seat without an incumbent has opened up, drawing some candidates.

On the Democratic side, Howard County School Board member Janet Siddiqui has been running for delegate alongside Guzzone, Pendergrass and Turner as part of "Team 13," which is how the district's Democrats traditionally run. But on Feb. 25, her husband, Nayab Siddiqui, filed as a candidate for the same seat, raising questions as to whether Janet Siddiqui would remain in the race. Calls to the Siddiquis for comment had not been returned as of Tuesday night.

Fred Eiland, a community organizer from Oakland Mills; and Vanessa Atterbeary, a Fulton attorney who ran for a Montgomery County delegate seat in 2010, are also running for Guzzone's District 13 seat as Democrats.

Three Republicans —North Laurel residents Danny Eaton and Chris Yates, and University of Maryland junior Jimmy Williams — have also filed to run for a District 13 delegate seat.

In District 23, Democratic incumbent state Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters faces some competition in the primary election from Democrat David Grogan, a retired federal law enforcement agent from Bowie. Peters has represented the area since 2007.

And in District 23A, incumbent Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith, a Democrat who's served for one term, since 2011, will face unaffiliated candidate Shukoor Ahmed in the general election, a local businessman who ran for the seat as a Democrat in the 2010 primary.

At the county level, Laurel's Howard County elections are more contested than those in Prince George's.

For the Howard County Executive post — which is being vacated as current County Executive Ken Ulman, a Democat, pursues the lieutenant governor seat on current Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown's ticket — Democrat Courtney Watson, a Howard County Council member since 2006, will face off against Republican state Sen. Allan Kittleman, who has been in his position since 2004.

Jen Terrasa, who represents southeast Howard County, including North Laurel, in District 3, will have a Democratic primary, with the last-minute entry of North Laurel community activist Brent Loveless into the race.

In Prince George's, County Executive Rushern Baker III, a Democrat finishing up his first term, will run again. He has two Independent opponents for the general election: Roussan Etienne Jr., of Cheltenham, and Timothy Dweylan Wilson, of Suitland.

District 1 Prince George's County Council member Mary Lehman, a Laurel Democrat with one term on the council under her belt, is running unopposed.

In Anne Arundel County, County Executive Laura Neuman, a Republican, will have a primary race against Del. Steve Schuh. On the Democratic side, former Anne Arundel County sheriff, George Johnson, is the only contender, after Joanna Conti announced last week that she had withdrawn from the race.

On the County Council, four candidates have filed for a shot to fill departing Council member G. James Benoit's seat. One of the three Democratic candidates — small businessman Scott Hymes, Anne Arundel County school board member Andrew Pruski and small businessman Devin Tucker, of Laurel — will face the lone Republican candidate, E. Chike Anyanwu, in the general election.

With an earlier primary election this year, on June 24, candidates have just four months to connect with voters. The general election is on Nov. 4.

Note: This article includes all the candidates who were listed on the Board of Elections' website as of the 9 p.m. filing deadline Feb. 25.

This story has been updated.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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