Councilwoman Conaway unseated in race to represent Hampden area

City Councilman Carl Stokes said he surprised himself with his wide margin of victory over Odette Ramos in Tuesday's Democratic primary race to represent Charles Village.

"It's much more than I expected, frankly," Stokes, an appointed councilman who was running for the 12th District seat, said on election night as he partied with Council President Bernard C. 'Jack' Young, who soundly defeated former Senator Theatre ownerTom Kiefaber.

With all Baltimore voting precincts reporting in the Democratic primary race, Stokes led Ramos by 49 to 23 percent, with Devon Brown at 12 percent, Jason Curtis at 8 percent and three others at 3 percent or less, in one of the city's most hotly contested races.

Ramos won several newspaper endorsements and was supported by City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke and State Del. Mary Washington.

"I thought it would be a lot closer," Stokes said.

A closely watched rematch in the York Road corridor also fizzled. Fourth District Councilman Bill Henry, who beat Scherod Barnes in 2007, beat him again, this time 61 to 39 percent. And all of the other council members who represent north Baltimore won easily or were unopposed, including Mount Washington's Rochelle "Rikki" Spector in District 5, Sharon Greene Middleton, who represents some of Roland Park in District 6, and Clarke, whose 14th District covers much of north Baltimore.

The day's upset was in District 12, representing theHampden-Remington area, where politically connected challenger Nick Mosby defeated Councilwoman Belinda Conaway — possibly with third-place finisher Allen Hicks ofHampden playing a spoiler's role.

Conaway, the daughter of City Clerk of the Circuit Court Frank Conaway, drew fire for supporting development of a Walmart-Lowe's shopping center in Remington. Conaway also denied a blogger's well-publicized claim that she lived outside the district.

Mosby beat Conaway convincingly, 51 to 30 percent. Favorite son Hicks, former president of the Hampden Community Council, ran third with five percent. Henry Brim and Timothy Mercer each had 2 percent.

Hicks said he personally supported Mosby over Conaway because of Conaway's shopping center support and disputed residency. He said Mosby talked to him about getting out of the race, fearing that Hicks would deny him votes and possibly hand Conaway the election.

"He felt I was going to split the vote and allow her to get in. But really, I took votes away from Belinda," Hicks said.

Mosby was the "establishment" candidate, even though Conaway was the incumbent, Hicks said. He said Gov. Martin O'Malley came to the voting precinct at the Academy for College and Career Exploration in Hampden on election day to stump for Mosby.

Mosby and Conaway could not be reached for comment.

It was clear sailing in Charles Village for Stokes, who was appointed to Young's seat when Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake succeeded scandal-scarred Sheila Dixon as mayor and Young became council president.

If Stokes looked beatable during the campaign, it wasn't reflected in the vote totals.

"They gave me really good numbers," Stokes said. "I'm most proud that the community feels I've done a good job."

Henry expressed similar sentiments and said Barnes held a fundraising edge on him during the District 4 campaign to represent the York Road area, including Govans, Radnor-Winston, the Loyola University area and the area around the Senator Theatre.

"I feel validated that if you go out and do a good job and do what you're supposed to do as a council person, you'll do well," Henry said.

Earlier Tuesday, supporters of candidates toiled to get out the vote in north Baltimore, but apparently without much success on a primary election day marked by low turnout..

Former city school board chairman Jim Campbell, supporting Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, walked from house to house in Oakenshawe around noon. On one arm he carried T-shirts promoting the mayor's re-election bid; in his other hand he carried fliers with cutouts, so that they could be hung on doorknobs if residents weren't home. He also had a map showing the locations of registered voters that the mayor's campaign was targeting.

"I knew her father really well," said the former Medfield resident, now of Roland Springs, referring to Rawlings-Blake's late father, former State Del. Howard "Pete" Rawlings.

But despite such efforts, voter turnout was running at around 12 percent late in the day, only about half of the 24 percent turnout for the 2007 mayoral primary, according to the Baltimore City Board of Elections.

Turnout was below elections judges' expectations at several polling places in north Baltimore, partly due to the advent of early voting and to the lack of a presidential primary, as well as to the predominantly Democratic makeup of the city, they said.

"It's awfully light, especially for a primary," said Bob Koch, Republican chief judge at theWaverly Library, the polling precinct for Oakenshawe and Abell.

His Democratic counterpart, Michael Howard recalled that 100 people were waiting in line when the polls opened in 2004's primaries.

"To me this is the slowest, at least since 2004," said Howard, of nearby Abell.

At First English Lutheran Church inGuilford, 119 people had cast their ballots as of 10:45 a.m. Tuesday morning, out of 1,200 voters registered for the precinct.

"L-O-W," said chief Republican judge Bill Barnes, of Tuscany-Canterbury. "Usually, we have about one third."

Barnes said he was not expecting a surge of voters in the evening hours from people voting on their way home from work

"And that's 'surge' in quotes," Barnes said.

One who did vote was Mike Godack, 57, of Tuscany-Canterbury.

"My nephew is fighting in Afghanistan so we can vote," Godack said, calling it "a civic duty."

"To me, if you don't vote, you have no reason to complain. Too many people have died for this right," he said.

Emily Snodgrass, 27, couldn't vote because she is not a registered Democrat or Republican.

"The unaffiliated choice I made was to feel that I truly have an ultimate choice, which is now limited," she said, referring to the Maryland requirement that voters must be affiliated with either the Democratic or Republic party to vote in primary elections.

She can vote, however, in the general election in November.

"I understand why they have that provision, but I'm confident the outcomes (of the primary) will allow me to make my voice heard" in the general election, she said. "There were two candidates I wanted to vote for, so I hope they get enough votes so I can support them next time."

At the Hampden firehouse on Roland Avenue, 104 voters came through as of 1 p.m., out of 891 registered voters in the precinct.

"We're hoping for an influx," said Democratic chief elections judge Candace Little. "There are a lot more seniors in this area," she said, which is historically a demographic that votes in large numbers.

But, she added, the fire station, Engine No. 21, is located right next to another precinct that was sending voters to Medfield Heights Elementary School, a mile away. Little added that her particular precinct usually has a turnout of 30 percent.

In the stifling heat of the Academy for College and Career Exploration's gymnasium in Hampden, election workers also waited for a surge, but weren't holding their breath, with only 114 voters by 1:30 p.m.

"I think there will be more, but not stacks of people," said Chief Republican judge Mary Erickson.

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