Howard County voters fell into step with a national trend yesterday and decided to limit the number of terms for County Council members.
Final tallies show that voters overwhelmingly want to limit service on the council to three terms or a maximum of 12 years. Incumbents could be re-elected but would have to leave office by 2002 since the proposal applies to everyone elected in 1990.
The measure passed by a 78 percent to 22 percent margin.
Until now, there was no limit on the number of terms a council member could serve.
Question C, the term limitation proposal sponsored by Councilman Darrel Drown, R-2nd, was placed on the ballot in record time.
Once on the ballot, the issue received virtually no attention -- a fact that nettled some Democrats. They thought the party should have opposed the proposal as something concocted by Republicans to assure more GOP representation.
While Democrats outnumber Republicans on the council 3-to-2, Democrats have predominated in overwhelming numbers since the county adopted a county executive-county council form of government more than two decades ago.
"I knew from our voter identification calls that Question C was going to pass with a pretty solid majority," said James B. Kraft, the county campaign coordinator for the Democratic Party. "We were so focused on the presidential campaign that nobody did the educational work to explain why we were opposed" to term limits.
Partisan politics were absent from the school board election, where four candidates were vying for two seats. Candidates Sandra French and Linda L. Johnston beat out Delroy Cornick and Melvina Brown.
With all votes tallied, Ms. French, an administrative assistant and former teacher running in her second consecutive school board election, led the balloting with 47,170 votes.
Ms. Johnston, a health education professor at Howard Community College, was second with 39,082 votes.
Mr. Cornick, a retired professor of management at Morgan State University and former associate superintendent of the District of Columbia public schools, was third with 26,799 votes.
Ms. Brown, a real estate agent and former teacher, had 20,762 votes.
Voters also strongly favored proposals that would allow the county government to establish a rainy-day fund to cover future budget shortfalls and that would allow the county to restrict the use of excess money excluded from the rainy-day account.