Harford County candidates who were in the lead after the initial results were tallied after Tuesday's primary election remained ahead Thursday after the first of three canvasses of absentee and provisional ballots was completed.
Some races, such as those for Harford County executive and president of the County Council, ended with a clear winner, but other races for some seats on the council and in the state legislature have much tighter margins.
More than 400 absentee ballots were counted by staffers at the Harford County Board of Elections headquarters in Forest Hill. The five-person Board of Elections, sitting as the Board of Canvassers, reviewed a handful of ballots that had issues such as not being signed by the voter or the oval next to the candidate of choice’s name was circled rather than being filled in all the way.
The board accepted 411 ballots, out of 414 submitted, at the completion of a count that lasted about two hours, canvassers board chair Maria Terry said.
One ballot was rejected because it had not been signed by the voter, another was rejected because the voter had filled out more than one ballot, according to Terry.
The third was rejected because it was “intentionally marked with an identifying mark,” Election Director Kevin Keene wrote in an email.
A second canvass is scheduled for 10 a.m. next Thursday, July 5, when 348 provisional ballots will be counted. The remaining absentee ballots will be counted starting at 10 a.m. next Friday, July 6.
The elections agency sent out 762 total absentee ballots, according to deputy elections director Dale Livingston. She said Thursday that elections officials are waiting for ballots to come back from military voters and people living overseas — ballots will be accepted as long as they were postmarked by June 26.
Officials have at least 268 more absentee ballots slated for the July 6 canvass, according to Keene.
All canvasses are open to the public and are held at the Board of Elections headquarters at 133 Industry Lane.
A handful of candidates, local attorneys and a few county citizens watched the process.
Bel Air resident Jim O’Brien, one of the citizen observers, said he was impressed with the counting process.
“It’s transparent, it’s thorough, it has multiple checks,” he said. “It’s a comforting reality for us.”
O’Brien lives in the Tudor Manor community just east of the Town of Bel Air. He and many of his neighbors spoke out in 2014 and 2015 against the development of the neighboring Eva-Mar farm off of Route 543, north of the intersection with Route 22.
Despite the outcry, Harford County approved plans for 144 single-family houses, on which construction has started, and a 514-unit continuing care retirement community called Carsins Run at Eva Mar. Construction has not yet started on the retirement community, which developers expect to be ready by 2020.
O’Brien said he was following the race for County Council District E, which includes his neighborhood, closely.
“We kind of lost the battle, but it’s not totally over yet until the [project] is done and it works for everybody,” he said.
In the county executive’s race, incumbent Republican Barry Glassman remains far ahead of his opponent, Councilman Mike Perrone, 13,289 to 5,264.
Glassman will face Democrat Maryann Forgan in the general election in November. Forgan, who was unopposed in the primary, had 11,270 votes as of Thursday.
Patrick Vincenti has a wide lead in the Republican race for council president over Shawn Kingston, 13,374 to 3,389.
The Democratic race is much tighter, with a near-even split in the vote totals. Frank “Bud” Hines is slightly ahead with 6,111 votes, compared to Samuel Gibson III’s 5,974 votes.
Vincenti, currently a district council member, and the Democratic winner will square off in November to succeed Richard Slutzky, who is retiring after serving a record tying 16 years on the council.
Democrat Andre Johnson is ahead of Dion Guthrie, a former councilman, by about 200 votes in their race for the District A County Council seat currently held by Perrone. Johnson leads 1,402 to 1,205.
Republican Donna Blasdell has a wider lead over Paula Mullis, 835 to 583.
Blasdell, an aide to Perrone, and Johnson appear headed for the November ballot.
Incumbent District B Councilman Joe Woods had no primary opposition and has garnered 3,027 votes. He will face Democrat Suzanne Oshinsky in the general. She did not have an opponent, either, and got 1,762 votes.
Tony "G" Giangiordano has captured nearly 48 percent of the vote in the three-way Republican primary for the District C council seat. The current holder, Councilman James McMahan, ran for state delegate this year.
Giangiordano has 1,665 votes, followed by Bel Air Mayor Susan Burdette with 994 and Patti Parker with 811 votes. The front runner will face Democrat Karen Kukurin in the general. She was unopposed and has earned 1,873 votes so far.
Chad Shrodes, the Republican incumbent District D councilman has 3,126 primary votes, compared to Jerry Scarborough’s 1,453 votes. Shrodes will face Democrat Jean Salvatore, who has earned 1,428 votes.
Robert Wagner, a former councilman and council president, is ahead of Diane Sengstacke by only 31 votes, 1,244 to 1,233, in the Republican race for District E. The winner will face unopposed Democratic candidate Bridgette Johnson, who has garnered 1,826 votes.
Wagner and Sengstacke both attended Thursday’s canvass, where Wagner picked up nine more votes and Sengstacke six, for a net gain of three to push his lead to 31 votes.
“This is what a low voter turnout gives you,” Wagner said, showing his notes that indicated narrow margins between the number of votes he and Sengstacke earned at each polling place.
Pointing out there are two more rounds of ballot counting in the week ahead, the former councilman and council president wasn’t ready to declare victory.
“It is what it is, and in the end, we’ll see how it shakes out,” Wagner said.
Incumbent Councilman Curtis Beulah leads the Republican race for District F with 1,369 votes. Amy Jahnigen is in second with 674 votes, and John Finlayson is in third with 174 votes.
The winner will face Democrat Winifred "Wini" Roche who received 2,258 votes and was unopposed in the primary.
State’s attorney, judges
Albert Peisinger has a 1,161-vote lead over his Deputy State’s Attorney David Ryden, in the four-way Republican race for Harford County state’s attorney, following Thursday’s count.
Peisinger has 6,784 votes to Ryden’s 5,623. Lisa Marts is hird with 3,479, and Steve Trostle fourth with 1,584 votes.
Peisinger will face Democrat Carlos Taylor, who received 11,276 votes in his uncontested primary.
Sitting Judges Paul Ishak and Lawrence Kreis Jr. lead the Republican race for Circuit Court judge, with 11,468 and 9,841 votes, respectively, and Diane Adkins-Tobin is in third with 7,473 votes.
Adkins-Tobin is still on top among the same three candidates in the Democratic primary. She has 8,894 votes, compared with 6,707 for Ishak and 5,401 for Kreis.
All three will be on the general election ballot, along with Libertarian Party nominee Thomas Ashwell