Eight school board hopefuls are one step closer to having one of the four seats on the Howard County Board of Education, according to unofficial primary election results.
Vicky Cutroneo, Bob Glascock, Robert Wayne Miller, Chao Wu, Jen Mallo, Sabina Taj, Danny Mackey and Anita Pandey were the top eight winners among 13 candidates in Tuesday’s primary.
Cutroeno has 19,991 votes, Glascock has 16,951 votes, Miller has 15,968 votes, Wu has 15,047 votes, Mallo has 13,080 votes, Taj has 12,849 votes, Mackey has 9,685 votes and Pandey has 9,666 votes, with 97.6 percent of the votes reported.
The remaining five candidates are Carleen Pena with 8,020 votes, Saif Rehman with 7,307 votes and Mavourene Robinson with 5,634 votes, Timothy Hodgson Hamilton with 3,579 votes, Christopher Michael Hilfiger with 3,071 votes with 97.6 percent of the votes reported.
The eight winners in the nonpartisan race advance to the Nov. 6 general election and challenge each other for one of the four open seats. None of the incumbents are seeking re-election.
The school board has seven members with an additional nonvoting seat for a student member.
Voters were able to vote for up to four candidates in the primary. If a ballot had more than four candidates selected, it would be either be rejected or not counted, depending on how the vote was cast.
“If a person was voting with a regular ballot and feeding it through a scanner, it would reject the ballot and send it back to the voter saying there was an overvote,” said Donna Duncan, assistant deputy for election policy at the the Maryland State’s Board of Elections.
If an absentee or provisional ballot had more than four candidates selected, none of the votes would count.
Columbia resident, Lois Savar-Rock, 70, said education was one of the issues as to why she was voting at Wilde Lake High School on Tuesday morning.
“Having a [board of education] candidate with an educational background is important to me,” said Savar-Rock, who’s retired and a Democrat. “It’s important to right the wrongs that were done by the previous superintendent [Renee Foose].”
In the 2016 school board race, the dynamic of the board shifted when all three incumbents who often sided with Foose were ousted and three new members were elected in. Incumbents Anne DeLacy, Ellen Flynn Giles and Janet Siddiqui were not re-elected.
The newly elected school board is going to be faced with the school system’s $50 million deficit due to the health-care fund not being fully funded for years. Additionally, other key issues include school safety, achievement gap, school crowing and the school system’s budget.
Rose Johnson, 74, of Columbia, is “very concerned” with the Howard County Board of Education and its development.
“I have the privilege of knowing some of the people I voted for today because they are neighbors,” said Johnson, a Democrat and retired librarian. “For years I have been able to meet many of these candidates and see them working firsthand.”
Johnson has been voting in Columbia since 1988 and even brought her original registration card with her to the polls at Wilde Lake High School on Tuesday.
Howard County Board of Elections Director Guy Mickley said the primary “was a smooth day, a pretty slow election.”
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There were 1,753 total absentee ballots sent out according to Deputy Director of the county board of elections Charlotte Davis. The deadline for receiving absentee ballots is Friday, but the ballots had to be postmarked by election day.
The county received more than 800 provisional ballots, Mickley said. The ballots need to be processed to be either accepted or denied. The rejection rate is typically between each 20 and 40 percent each year, according to Mickley.