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Howard election: School board seats go to Delmont-Small, Watts, Mosley, Mallo and Lu; Coleman wins judge race

Howard County election officials have finished counting all votes cast in the 2020 general election.

Both Board of Education incumbents — Christina Delmont-Small and Jen Mallo — won reelection, while newcomers Antonia Barkley Watts, Jolene Mosley and Yun Lu will join the board in December.

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In the judicial race for a 15-year term on the Howard County Circuit Court, Quincy Coleman defeated incumbent John Kuchno. Coleman will be sworn into office in January.

Howard County voters also passed all three referendum questions on the ballot by wide margins.

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The last day of mail ballot canvassing was Friday.

Guy Mickley, Howard County’s elections director, said all ballots have been scanned and sent to the Maryland State Board of Elections. All results are unofficial until they are certified by the state.

“Obviously we are very happy to be finished at this point after four elections in one year,” Mickley said, referring to the 7th Congressional District special primary and general, in addition to the 2020 primary and general. “After everything that was thrown at us in 2020, we did a superb job, to be quite honest. We conducted several elections during [the coronavirus] pandemic, and we were still able to certify every one on time."

While the final mail and provisional ballots were counted Thursday and Friday, most of the local races were blowouts and the winners were apparent last week. Only two races — the District 4 seat on the Board of Education and the Circuit Court judge seat — were too close to be called last week, although the vote tallies didn’t tighten as more mail ballots trickled in after Election Day.

Howard County races to watch

Howard County Board of Education District 1
Candidate
votes
Christina Delmont-Small (Nonpartisan)
Incumbent
20,262
64.2%
Matthew Molyett (Nonpartisan)
11,307
35.8%
100% of vote
Howard County Board of Education District 2
Candidate
votes
Antonia Watts (Nonpartisan)
21,968
72.7%
Larry Pretlow, II (Nonpartisan)
8,267
27.3%
100% of vote
Howard County Board of Education District 3
Candidate
votes
Jolene Mosley (Nonpartisan)
22,015
78.8%
Tom Heffner (Nonpartisan)
5,935
21.2%
100% of vote
Howard County Board of Education District 4
Candidate
votes
Jen Mallo (Nonpartisan)
Incumbent
16,748
52.2%
Sezin Palmer (Nonpartisan)
15,365
47.8%
100% of vote
Howard County Board of Education District 5
Candidate
votes
Yun Lu (Nonpartisan)
22,871
65%
Cindy Vaillancourt (Nonpartisan)
12,321
35%
100% of vote
Howard County Question A - Council redistricting
Candidate
votes
Yes (Unaffiliated)
117,794
72%
No (Unaffiliated)
45,820
28%
100% of vote
Howard County Question B - Term limits for boards
Candidate
votes
Yes (Unaffiliated)
147,581
87.6%
No (Unaffiliated)
20,810
12.4%
100% of vote
Howard County Question C - Discrimination protections
Candidate
votes
Yes (Unaffiliated)
136,730
80.1%
No (Unaffiliated)
33,877
19.9%
100% of vote
Circuit Court Judge District 5 Howard County
Candidate
votes
Quincy Coleman (Nonpartisan)
81,970
53.2%
John Kuchno (Nonpartisan)
Incumbent
72,055
46.8%
100% of vote

In the hotly contested District 4 seat, which saw incumbent Kirsten Coombs lose to challenger Sezin Palmer in the primary, Mallo edged out Palmer by 4.3 points. Mallo, who was first elected to the board in 2018, received 1,382 more votes than Palmer among the district’s nearly 32,500 voters.

“I am thrilled to be able to continue my work serving the students, families and the staff of [the Howard County Public School System],” Mallo wrote on her campaign’s Facebook page Friday. “We have many challenges ahead of us in education in our county, and I am committed to the hard work to ensure excellence in our school system and for our students.”

Mallo led by 5.6 points on election night, although that vote tally didn’t include the votes cast on Election Day. After the Election Day votes were added Nov. 4, Palmer closed the gap to 4.3 points. Palmer led among the district’s 10,129 early in-person voters and 2,433 Election Day voters, but Mallo has a large lead among the district’s 18,212 mail ballot voters. Palmer won the early in-person vote by 7.2 percentage points and the Election Day vote by 24.7 points. Mallo, however, beat Palmer by 14.5 points among voters who cast mail ballots.

“I believe that we sent a strong message to our elected leaders that so many of us want to see more accountability and transparency from our [school board] and that our children’s educational outcomes need to be at the top of the list of priorities moving forward,” Palmer wrote on her campaign’s Facebook page Friday. “Our efforts did make a difference.”

In the countywide Howard County Circuit Court judge race, Coleman defeated Kuchno by 6.4 points.

Similar to the District 4 race, the 52,113 early in-person voters and the 15,301 Election Day voters leaned Kuchno’s way, while the 83,377 mail voters went heavily for Coleman. Kuchno, who was appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan in 2018 and was seeking election for the first time, won the early in-person vote by 3.2 points and the Election Day vote by 13.2 points. However, Coleman received 12,982 more mail votes — a vote share difference of 15.6 points — than Kuchno.

“I entered this race because I want to do my part to ensure equal justice for all people who come before the court," wrote Coleman in a statement. “Now that I have been elected by the people, I intend to do just that. My determination as judge is to be impartial and to treat everyone who comes before the court with the utmost fairness and respect, while applying the rule of law.”

In the District 1 Board of Education race, Delmont-Small defeated Matthew Molyett by 28.3 percentage points. Delmont-Small, who was first elected to the board in 2016, received nearly 9,000 more votes than Molyett among the district’s approximately 31,700 voters.

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Lu won by a similar margin in District 5, defeating Cindy Vaillancourt, a former school board member from 2010 to 2018, by 29.8 points. Lu received about 10,500 more votes than Vaillancourt among the district’s 35,334 voters.

The races in districts 2 and 3, meanwhile, were even more lopsided than districts 1 and 5.

In District 2, Watts defeated Larry Pretlow II by 45 points. Pretlow, who both suspended and reactivated his campaign in the five weeks before Election Day, was outpaced by Watts by about 13,700 votes.

In District 3, Mosley beat Tom Heffner, who dropped out of the race in September and endorsed Mosley, by a little more than 16,000 votes. Mosley received 78% of the vote in the district.

The winners in the five districts will make up the first Board of Education in Howard County to be voted in by residents in a district instead of the entire county. Current Vice Chair Vicky Cutroneo and member Chao Wu will remain on the board through 2022, serving as the first two at-large members in the new system.

In addition to the local races, Howard County voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of all three county referendum questions.

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The first question, which proposes changing the dates for the County County to appoint members to the Councilmanic Redistricting Commission, received 71.9% support. The second question, asking voters to shorten appointment terms for citizen boards from five years to three, has 87.6% support. The final question, which would add several anti-discriminatory clauses to the charter for the first time since the 1960s, has 80.1% support.

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At the top of the ticket, Howard County voters heavily broke for Democrat Joe Biden over Republican Donald Trump for president. Of the 183,062 voters who voted in the presidential race, 70.7% voted for Biden, who received 81,043 more votes than Trump.

Biden’s 44.3-point margin among Howard County voters outpaces his 31.6-point victory in the state of Maryland. Compared to 2016, Howard County swung 10 points in Biden’s direction, as Hillary Clinton won 64.1% of the county’s voters four years ago.

Howard County residents also voted in one of three congressional races depending on the district they live in. In District 7, between incumbent Democrat Kweisi Mfume and Republican Kimberly Klacik, Howard County voters picked Mfume over Klacik by 21 points. District 2 voters in Howard County picked incumbent Democrat C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger over Republican Johnny Ray Salling by 51 points, while District 3′s Howard County voters chose incumbent Democrat John Sarbanes by 47.2 points over Republican Charles Anthony.

Following a primary election that was Maryland’s first vote-by-mail statewide election due to the coronavirus pandemic, the state offered mail voting to all registered voters again for the general election. More than 54% of Howard County voters cast their votes by mail, while others decided to vote early in person or on Election Day.

Before Election Day, a record 152,000 Howard County residents had already voted. Due to the pandemic, voters across the county requested mail ballots at a higher rate than almost any other jurisdiction in the state, second only to Montgomery County, and voted early in-person more than any year in history, according to election officials. About 99,000 of the approximately 183,000 voters to cast ballots in Howard County voted by mail.

In addition to those who chose to vote via a mail ballot, approximately 61,000 Howard County residents voted in person before Election Day at one of the county’s five early voting centers. With 67% of Howard County’s approximately 226,000 active registered voters casting their ballots before Election Day, the lines at the county’s 17 in-person voting centers on Nov. 3 were short or nonexistent. About 18,000 voters chose to vote on Election Day.

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