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Seeing change in the Baltimore County Council

Voters decided on primary election day last month to shake things up in the Baltimore County Council.

Come December, three new voices will join the seven-member panel.

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Two incumbents were decisively shown the door — Republican Todd Huff who represents rural Baltimore County, and Democrat Ken Oliver, who represents Woodlawn, Randallstown and parts of Owings Mills on the west side.

Huff lost decisively to longtime state Del. Wade Kach, who won nearly two-thirds of the vote in District 3's Republican primary.

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Oliver lost by 1,700 votes to career firefighter Julian Jones, who came within a whisker — 98 votes — four years ago of winning.

It was time for both to go.

Oliver is concluding 12 undistinguished years on the council representing District 4; Huff kept running into controversies in his lone term.

The third new member will come from District 7 — Dundalk-Essex — where four-term Councilman John Olszewski Sr., known as Johnny O., is retiring.

Business development specialist Joe DiCara, the Democratic nominee, is a heavy favorite against Republican Todd Crandell.

Few of the November races are likely to be close.

Democrats hold large voter registration advantages in most of the county.

In the Dundalk-Essex district, for instance, 7,941 Democrats cast votes in the council primary versus 2,672 Republicans.

In District 2 — Owings Mills-Reisterstown — 15,105 Democratic primary votes were cast for council compared with 1,961 for the lone Republican.

District 3 could be an interesting race. Democrat Laurier Taylor-Mitchell, a college arts professor and education advocate, ran unopposed, yet her vote total came within 1,000 of the combined GOP ballots cast for Kach and Huff.

A few lucky politicians face no opposition in the fall.

Jones, who is a division chief in the Anne Arundel fire company, gets a free ride in November.

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So does 5th District Republican Councilman David Marks, whose popularity in the Towson-Parkville area dissuaded any Democrat or Republican from filing against him.

Barring an upset, the new members of the county council should give the institution a less parochial outlook.

Jones has extensive leadership experience and understands the importance of metropolitan cooperation. He's also likely to be much more proactive than his predecessor.

Kach would bring a wealth of experience on statewide issues. He served 40 years in the Maryland General Assembly until redistricting made it difficult for him to gain another term.

DiCara would focus on bringing jobs and businesses to the county, especially his east-end district. He could become a vocal proponent for redeveloping the sprawling Sparrows Point steel plant.

Their input could spark others on the council to unite behind innovative solutions to county problems.

They also might prod the county executive to align with council initiatives.

That would be a marked change from the past. Baltimore County's legislative body needs some fresh faces with fresh ideas.

After the November election, a markedly different council could be in the offing.

Barry Rascovar can be reached at brascovar@hotmail.com. His blog site is http://www.politicalmaryland.com.

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