Carroll countians cast votes in two local races during the 2020 primary election, voicing preferences for who should fill two seats on the Board of Education and the role of a Circuit Court judge. But the outcome isn’t yet decided.
In-person voting closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, but unlike most years, the majority of voters participated by mail in response due to the coronavirus pandemic, which also led Gov. Larry Hogan to postpone the election from its original date of April 28.
The results available Tuesday night were far from final, as election officials work to finish counting thousands of mail-in ballots. The Carroll County Board of Elections estimates that the count will be finished by June 12.
Board of Education
Of the Board of Education candidates, incumbents Donna Sivigny and Marsha B. Herbert appeared to have comfortable leads when the first batch of results was released at about 8:30 p.m. These results reflected the mail-in ballots that had been collected and canvassed as of Monday evening.
Sivigny and Herbert each captured about 25% of the votes, with Herbert leading at 7,466 and Sivingy at 7,241. Virginia R. Harrison was at 20.9% with 6,180. Stephanie R. Brooks captured 4,476 votes, or 15.2%, and Mary Kowalski captured 4,144, or 14%.
When the results updated at about 11:20 p.m. to include votes cast in person Tuesday, the percentages moved less than half a point for each candidate. Herbert finished the evening with 7,944 votes, or 25.3%; Sivigny with 7,795, or 24.9%; Harrison with 6,488, or 20.7%; Brooks with 4,723, or 15.1%; and Kowalski with 4,417, or 14.1%.
The top-performing four of the five candidates will move on to the general election in November, when voters will select two members to serve on the board. The Board of Education race is nonpartisan and appeared on all registered voters’ ballots.
“The results as they stand right now are looking pretty encouraging,” Sivigny said in an interview Tuesday night after the first set of results were released.
Herbert, who was polling less than a percentage point ahead of her colleague, is looking ahead to the next election.
“I love my job as being on the board, but I'll be glad when the November election is over,” Herbert said.
A self-proclaimed proponent of career and technology education, Herbert is eager to see the renovation work on the Carroll County Career and Technology Center finished. “That’s one of the things I want to get done,” she said.
Sivigny said she hopes to continue building upon the foundation the school board has set over the past four years. As a board member, some highlights for her have been planning for the upcoming Career and Technology Center renovation and addition, planning for the replacement of East Middle School’s aging building, revamping academics, and seeing the county’s students achieve strong testing results.
“We just want to solidify the things that we put in place,” she said.
Sivigny expressed pride in the way Carroll County has adapted to distance learning during the pandemic of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. “I’m pretty proud at the way our school system has really reacted to the situation,” she said.
Herbert and Sivigny thanked those who supported them in their campaigns.
On Tuesday night, Harrison said, “I’m feeling okay, just waiting to see what’s going to happen."
She has not been able to do as much for her campaign as she would like due to the pandemic. “Once we come out of quarantine, I’m going to be really busy then,” she said.
Brooks said, “For me personally, I knew it was going to be a hard race. I think COVID-19 made that even harder. [And] I’m running against some very tenured folks.”
She continued, “I’m really proud of the number of votes that I’ve gotten so far,” after the first batch of results Tuesday night.
Most of the engagement she was able to have with the public was through her Facebook platform. Due to COVID-19, two fundraisers planned for the spring were canceled, as were the fire company carnivals where she planned to meet new community members.
When she is able, she said, “I’ll be looking for every opportunity to get out to the communities.”
Kowalski said Tuesday night, “I’m looking forward to see the final tally when it comes in, and I’ll be keeping an eye on those results. I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me.”
In the Carroll County Circuit Court judge race, sitting Judge Richard Titus is campaigning to keep the seat against challenges from attorneys Laura Morton and George Psoras, Jr.
Carroll County Breaking News
Titus led overall when results were released at about 11:20 p.m. Tuesday, with 9,955 votes across Republicans and Democrats, or 58.7%. Morton followed with 4,656, or 27.4%, and Psoras had 2,354, or 13.9%. These results included the mail-in ballots counted thus far and in-person votes.
Hogan appointed Titus to the bench in November to fill the seat left vacant by the retiring Judge Barry Hughes. By Maryland law, appointed Circuit Court judges must run in a nonpartisan election and serve a 15-year term if re-elected, though all judges must retire at age 70.
All candidates for Circuit Court judge are cross-posted on Republican and Democrat ballots. Voters registered as independent or in other parties cannot vote for a candidate in the primaries. The top two vote-getters move on to the general election in November.
Broken down into partisan races, Titus led among Republican voters with 7,813 votes, or 70.6%. Morton captured 1,689, or 15.3%, and Psoras captured 1,569, or 14.2%.
Morton took the lead with Democrat voters, capturing 2,967 votes, or 50.3%. Titus followed with 2,142, or 36.3%, and Psoras had 785, or 13.3%.
Circuit Court judges preside over civil and criminal cases. These tend to be more serious than those heard in the District Court. Appeals to cases first heard in the District Court also occur there.
Tuesday night’s results were released in phases. The first round included just Board of Education results from Carroll County when polls in Carroll closed. These were votes cast through mail-in or drop-off ballots that have been counted prior to Tuesday. Carroll County Election Director Katherine Berry said they had finished counting more than 19,000 ballots prior to the release of those results Tuesday. Results for the judge race were released later in the evening alongside in-person results, which were released at about 11:20 p.m.