The only incumbent on the Howard County Council seeking re-election was fighting off a spirited challenge in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, where voters were selecting candidates for five district seats.
As primary election results continued to trickle in early Wednesday morning, District 1 Democrat Jon Weinstein had a razor-thin lead — 41 votes ahead of challenger Liz Walsh.
Sixteen nominees were fighting for one of the council’s five seats in a year that will bring major change to the county’s legislative body as four of five council members’ terms expire.
With results reported from 91 percent of the 35 precincts in District 1, Weinstein was up with50.3 percent of the district’s 6,137 votes. The winner will face Ellicott City Republican Raj Kathuria, who ran unopposed, in November.
In a race that tight, Howard County Board of Elections Director Guy Mickley said the winner could likely be decided by absentee and provisional ballots, which won’t be counted until later. It was not clear how many provisional ballots were issued Tuesday.
District 2 had no primary races and Columbia Republican John Liao opposes Columbia Democrat Opel Jones.
Former NAACP chief Ben Jealous won Maryland’s Democratic primary for governor Tuesday, promising to deliver a progressive agenda that makes college free, legalizes marijuana and raises the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
With 26 of the district’s 29 precincts reporting results, Columbia Democrat Christiana Rigby is ahead of three competitors and is expected to clinch the Democratic District 3 nomination, with55 percent of the district’s6,267 votes. Rigby faced opponents Hiruy Hadgu, from Savage, and Steve Hunt and Greg Jennings, of Laurel. No Republican is running in the district.
With 24 of the 27 precincts reporting results in District 4, Democrat Deb Jung is in the lead against former Board of Education member Janet Siddiqui, of Savage, and Ian Bradley Moller Knudsen, from Columbia, with 64 percent of the district’s 7,771 votes. The winner will face Republican Laurel resident Lisa Kim, who ran unopposed, in the general election.
With 27 of its 30 precincts reporting results in District 5, Woodbine Republican David Yungmann is ahead of fellow Woodbine resident Jim Walsh in the county’s sole Republican primary with 60 percent of the district’s 3,851 votes. Yungmann will face Ellicott City Democrat China Williams, who ran unopposed, in November.
Voter turnout in the county this election was low, according to Mickley.
In typical off-year primary elections, Mickley said turnout tends to be between 28 and 32 percent. As of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, 13 percent of the county’s 211,820 active voters had turned out to the polls. Roughly 6.5 percent of the county’s voters cast their ballots early and roughly 1,700 cast absentee ballots, according to election officials.