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Delmont-Small, Watts, Mosley and Lu poised to win Howard County school board seats; other races too close to call

Four Howard County Board of Education candidates have overwhelming leads Wednesday after the Howard County Board of Elections finished reporting results from in-person voters on Election Day.

District 1 incumbent Christina Delmont-Small, District 2 candidate Antonia Barkley Watts, District 3 candidate Jolene Mosley and District 5 candidate Yun Lu are all in a position to win their respective districts as the majority of votes have been counted in Howard County.

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As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Delmont-Small and Lu are both winning by about 30 percentage points in their respective districts, while Watts and Mosley are leading by 43 and 54 points, respectively.

The race in District 4, however, is too close to determine a winner. Incumbent Jen Mallo currently leads Sezin Palmer by 4.3 points, or 1,086 votes.

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In the countywide Howard County Circuit Court judge race, Quincy Coleman currently leads incumbent John Kuchno by a few points, but that race is also too early to call.

The results, as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, include all in-person Election Day voters, all in-person early voters and the majority of vote-by-mail ballots.

As of Tuesday, the county’s elections office had received about 95,000 of the nearly 108,000 mail ballots that were requested by Howard County voters. By Wednesday afternoon, at least 63,000 of those 95,000 mail ballots were included in the county’s early results.

Therefore, at least 32,000 mail ballots still need to be counted, with the possibility of thousands more, potentially as high as 15,000, that could arrive and be counted between Wednesday and Nov. 13. The deadline for a mail ballot, as long as it is postmarked by Nov. 3, to be received and counted by the county’s elections office is Nov. 13.

In District 1, Delmont-Small leads Matthew Molyett 65.2% to 34.8% so far. The results include 24,904 votes — 10,653 from early in-person voting, 3,085 on Election Day and 11,166 by mail. Delmont-Small is running for a second term on the school board. She was first elected in 2016.

“I’m honored the voters in District 1 have elected me to represent them on the Board of Education,” Delmont-Small wrote on Facebook Wednesday morning. “... Although board members are now elected by district, decisions of the board must ensure that all [Howard County Public School System] students receive the education they need and that our decisions sustain the school system now and in the future. If we have a community that doesn’t feel like their input matters, then we fail as a board.”

Watts (71.7%) is leading Larry Pretlow II (28.3%) among District 2′s approximately 23,600 reported votes. Meanwhile, in District 3, Mosley (77.7%) is ahead of Tom Heffner (22.3%) with about 21,500 votes counted so far.

Watts’ and Mosley’s apparent victories aren’t surprising considering decisions made by their opponents in the months leading up to the election. Both Pretlow and Heffner suspended their campaigns in September, although their decisions were after the deadline to be removed on the ballot. Pretlow, however, later rescinded his suspension, while Heffner decided to instead endorse Mosley.

“We did it. We won our race,” Watts wrote on her campaign’s Facebook page. “I am so happy and humbled that so many gave their time, energy and donations to support my campaign.”

“I’m really proud of the campaign I’ve run,” Mosley wrote in an email. “I feel the overwhelmingly positive response in vote totals reflects the broad support I have in District 3 and the wide-range of endorsements I received as a candidate. I look forward to building relationships across the community and highlighting concerns from a different perspective during school board discussions.”

In District 5, Lu leads Cindy Vaillancourt 65.1% to 34.9% among the approximately 28,400 votes so far. Lu is running for the Howard County Board of Education for the first time, while Vaillancourt was on the board from 2010 to 2018.

“Like many first-generation immigrants, I arrived to the United States as a graduate student with only two suitcases,” Lu wrote on her campaign’s Facebook page. “Through our own experiences, we have learned that good education can open doors [and] hard work and determination will lead to success. We will work together to make Howard County a better place for all our children and all communities.”

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In District 4, Mallo (52.2%) leads Palmer (47.8%) among the district’s 25,124 reported votes. Mallo is running for a second term on the school board. She was first elected in 2018.

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

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.

Howard County’s ballot also featured three county referendum questions that look to pass by large margins.

The first question, which proposes changing the dates for the County County to appoint members to the Councilmanic Redistricting Commission, has 71.2% 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 79% support.

In the presidential election, Howard County voters picked former Vice President Joe Biden over President Donald Trump by 40.7 points. Of the 138,884 votes, Biden has garnered 98,462 votes to Trump’s 40,422.

Howard County residents also voted on one of three congressional races depending on the district they live in. In District 7, between Democrat Kweisi Mfume and Republican Kimberly Klacik, Mfume leads by about 18.5 points. District 2 voters in Howard County picked Democrat C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger over Republican Johnny Ray Salling by 47.4 points, while District 3′s Howard County voters chose Democrat John Sarbanes by 45 points over Republican Charles Anthony.

Prior to Election Day, a record 152,000 Howard County residents had already voted. Due to the coronavirus 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.

In addition to those who chose to vote via a mail ballot, approximately 60,000 Howard County residents voted in person before Election Day at one of the county’s five early voting centers. The first day of early voting on Oct. 26 had long lines in the morning, as a single-day record of 11,580 people voted throughout the day, according to election officials. The lines subsided as the day and week of early voting continued.

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With 67% of Howard County’s 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. Approximately 18,000 voters chose to vote on Election Day.

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