Election Guide: Maryland and Montgomery County 2012
Your guide for the general election in Maryland.
With Election Day here, Patch is devoted to bringing you the information you’ll need when you head to the polls.
The presidential race headlines this year’s election, but Maryland voters also face the most significant lineup of ballot questions in memory: Same-sex marriage, congressional redistricting, in-state tuition for undocumented students and an expansion of the state’s gambling industry.
Here's our guide on the candidates and issues we'll be covering. Bookmark this page for updates.
President Barack Obama: Maryland is a reliably Democratic state for presidential candidates. Obama held a fundraiser in Owings Mills on June 12 as well as campaigned in Baltimore with Gov. Martin O'Malley. He visited Towson University for a basketball game in November 2011.
GOP Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney: The former Massachusetts governor visited Maryland in March. Remember the Etch A Sketch comment that continues to be brought up in the waning days of the campaign? That came on the day Romney visited Arbutus. In explaining how the candidate will avoid being pushed too far to the right on the issues during the primaries to capture wide appeal for November's general election, spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom, in a CNN interview, likened Romney's positions to an Etch A Sketch. "You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again,” he said. Political opponents wasted no time in capitalizing on what was perceived as a misstep. Nonetheless, Romney won the Maryland primary in April.
Sen. Ben Cardin: The incumbent Democrat is seeking a second term in the U.S. Senate. He has shared many of his views in his blog on Patch.
Daniel Bongino: Cardin's Republican opponent is Daniel Bongino of Severna Park. He is a former Secret Service agent.
3rd Congressional District:
Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat, is seeking a fourth term in Maryland’s 3rd district. If re-elected, the Towson resident will represent parts of Baltimore, Howard and Anne Arundel counties, parts of Baltimore City, and areas of eastern Montgomery County that were included last year as part of the newly reconfigured district. Sarbanes made headlines in May when he announced that the majority of his campaign funds would come from small donors. In 2010, he was re-elected with 61 percent of the district’s vote.
Eric Knowles - No one is predicting a close race in Maryland's Congressional 3rd District, but if someone is going to upset Democratic incumbent Rep. John Sarbanes, it's the Republican Knowles. The son of a former Green Beret and police officer, Knowles calls himself a strict constitutionalist who says the nation's economic problems can be solved if the government prints less money.
6th Congressional District:
In his run for an 11th term, Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett must now consider Montgomery County because of the new boundaries for the 6th District. A Frederick County resident, Bartlett claimed the Republican nomination with 43.8 percent of the primary vote. Bartlett, whose background is in science and business, was listed as the state’s wealthiest congressman (58th out of 435 members of the House of Representative). Get to know the Bartlett on his official website.
Democrat John Delaney hopes to bring his understanding of the economy and ideas for job creation to Congress. As a successful businessman, the Potomac resident believes his experience and expertise will prove beneficial to lowering the deficit and unemployment rate for Maryland and the United States.
8th Congressional District:
Rep. Christopher Van Hollen (D), a long-time Kensington resident and ranking member on the House Budget Committee, touts health care, education, the environment, and open government among his top issues.
Kenneth Timmerman, a Republican, is also a long-time resident of Kensington with his wife, Christina, and has five children in Maryland public schools and universities. Timmerman writes about defense and intelligence issues and has testified as an expert witness in terrorism trials in U.S. federal courts and before Congress. He was head of the Maryland Taxpayers Association and worked on the Divest Terror movement to prevent Maryland pension funds from being invested in companies doing business with terrorists.
The Nov. 6 ballot features seven statewide questions and three specific to Montgomery County, plus the renewal of a state appeals court judge.
Question 4: The Maryland “Dream Act”
The Dream Act would allow illegal immigrant students to pay in-state tuition at institutions in the University System of Maryland if their parents filed to pay state taxes, if they graduated from a Maryland high school after attending for at least three years and if they graduated. Passed by the General Assembly in 2011, opponents launched a petition effort that blocked the legislation from taking effect and landed it on the 2012 ballot as a voter referendum.
In the summer, Dream Act supporters joined forces with same-sex marriage advocates to campaign for both issues. http://montgomeryvillage.patch.com/articles/familia-will-be-focus-of-push-for-dream-act-and-gay-marriage
A yes vote on Question 4 would allow undocumented students who qualify to pay in-state tuition.
Question 5: Congressional Redistricting
Gov. O’Malley’s plan for redrawing Maryland’s eight congressional districts according to the 2010 Census—passed during a General Assembly special session last fall—fanned partisan flames and upset minority advocates but survived a court challenge that claimed the map violated the federal Voting Rights Act.
In July, critics collected enough signatures to put the redistricting plan on the November ballot. County and state Democrats and the NAACP also have criticized the redistricting map, claiming that the redrawn districts dilute the voting power of racial and ethnic minority groups.
If voters reject the plan, the districts will have to be redrawn in time for the 2014 election. Democrats currently hold six of the state's eight congressional seats.
One of the most significant changes was the inclusion of large parts of northern and western Montgomery County in the 6th District. U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R) of Buckeystown has held the 6th District seat for 10 terms. The inclusion of Montgomery County, where Democrats enjoy a significant voter registration advantage, is seen as a challenge to Bartlett.
A yes vote on Question 5 would maintain the redrawn districts. A no vote would require state lawmakers to redraw the districts in time for the 2014 elections.
Question 6: The Civil Marriage Protection Act
On March 1, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill allowing same-sex couples to wed in Maryland. Despite celebrations from supporters, opponents in May of same-sex marriage turned in about twice the number of signatures they needed to send the law to referendum in November. Supporters of same-sex marriage such as Equality Maryland mobilized support, canvassing and holding public events. Groups that oppose same-sex marriage, including the Maryland Marriage Alliance, http://www.marylandmarriagealliance.org/ solicited support and raised funds.
A yes vote on Question 6 would allow same-sex marriages in Maryland starting in 2013.
Question 7: Gambling expansion
Legislation passed in the 2012 special session would allow table games such as poker and black jack at Maryland’s five casinos and allow a sixth casino in Prince George’s County. It would also increase the number of video lottery terminals from 15,000 to 16,500.
Democratic party leaders say the move will correct the mistake of limiting casinos to only slot machines when gambling was allowed in the 2008 referendum, while opponents argue that there is no guarantee that the $200 million expected to be generated will actually end up in the state education fund.
A yes vote for Question 7 would allow a sixth casino, the introduction of table games and the increase to video terminals. The location of the sixth casino depends on the outcome among voters in Prince George’s County.
*Questions 1 and 2: Require judges in the orphans’ courts for Prince George’s and Baltimore counties, respectively, to have practiced law in Maryland before taking the bench.
*Question 3: Remove elected officials from public office when they are found guilty or plead no contest to a criminal charge, rather than waiting until sentencing. The state Senate and House had passed the law unanimously. “I think it should help restore the public trust,” said Del. Anne Kaiser, head of Montgomery delegation.
*Question 8 asks whether to renew Stuart R. Berger for a 10-year on the state Court of Appeals, the state’s second-highest court.
MONTGOMERY-SPECIFIC RACES AND ISSUES
Question A: Workers with Disabilities
This amendment to Montgomery County law would give the government more flexibility to hire people with significant cognitive and physical disabilities.
Spearheaded by Councilmember Phil Andrews (D-Dist 3), with the support of County Executive Isiah Leggett, the change would create a program within the county's internal employment system to recruit and hire people with certain disabilities for some county jobs. Currently, the county’s “merit system” stymies people with significant disabilities from advancing beyond an internship.
“The unemployment rate for people with disabilities far exceeds the general unemployment rate,” Andrews said.
“If employed, many people with severe disabilities could help support themselves financially. This would help them directly, and would help taxpayers too by reducing dependence on government services."
Question B: Police Union “Effects Bargaining”
The County Council—with the support of County Executive Isiah Leggett and Police Chief J. Thomas Manger—unanimously passed a measure this summer to revoke “effects bargaining” and bring FOP in line with the collective bargaining powers of Maryland’s other police departments. The change would not affect negotiations over wages and benefits.
County officials argue that effects bargaining stifles much-needed reforms, while FOP leaders say their opponents are misleading the public.
A yes vote on Question B would enact the law that strikes down effects bargaining.
Question C: Alcohol sale in Damascus
Voters in Damascus voting districts are being asked whether to repeal the town’s ban on alcohol sales. The measure would authorize beer and light wine in hotels and certain restaurants. Damascus is one of the last “dry” towns in Maryland, and has tried—but failed—to repeal its liquor ban at least five times since 1880, The Washington Post reported.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION
Phil Kauffman – A member of the Board of Education since 2008, Kauffman is seeking to be re-elected to his at-large seat. He works as deputy assistant general council of the Department of Veterans Affairs. He believes that “public education is the single greatest investment our community can make,” according to his website. His goals include moving the school system forward and greater support for educators. Kauffman won 60.3 percent of the at-large vote in April’s primary election.
His priorities are:
- Ensure our public schools remain among the best in the country by continuing to improve
- Produce graduates with essential 21st Century skills
- Provide students with opportunities to participate in athletics, arts, and extracurricular activities
- Give educators the support they need to inspire and engage students
- Provide fiscal accountability
For more information about Kauffman, visit his campaign website.
Morris Panner – Endorsed by The Washington Post’s editorial board, Panner is the CEO of a healthcare information technology company and the father of four elementary-aged children. He says that Montgomery County should not take its success for granted— innovation and improvement are needed. Panner won 17 percent of the at-large vote in April’s primary election.
The Washington Post said, “Mr. Panner recognizes that current benefit programs are unsustainable, and he is thoughtful and forthright about the need to revisit how teachers are compensated in ways that recognize the reality of today’s career paths.”
His priorities are:
- Fund education responsibly and sustainably: Our County is threatened with unprecedented budget challenges. We must make education a priority and do it responsibly.
- Attract and retain the highest quality educators: Great teachers make great schools. We need to continue to attract the best and make sure we allow them to innovate and lead.
- Strengthen local schools: Local schools make great communities. We must ensure every child gets a superior education.
- Strive for excellence: We face the most competitive global economy in history. Our children need tools to succeed.
- For more information about Panner, visit his campaign website.
Fred Evans – Evans is a 30-year veteran of Montgomery County Public Schools, serving as a social studies teacher, staff training specialist, assistant principal and principal at the middle school and high school levels. He currently is a professor of educational leadership at George Mason University. Evans won 24.7 percent of the District 2 vote during April’s primary election.
Evans three main priorities, according to his website, are:
1. Closing the achievement gap among student racial, ethnic, language and income groups.
2. Improving relationships between the Board Education, the Montgomery County Council, Maryland State Legislature and federal representatives to obtain the appropriate financial resources to attract employees to schools, as well as businesses to a strong public education system.
3. Encouraging the board to initiate a careful analysis and action plan on what works and what needs to be changed in the Montgomery County school system.
Rebecca Smondrowski – Smondrowski, a parent of two current school-aged children, has served on local and county level PTAs. She has worked professionally in the local and state government, most recently as the legislative aide to Senator Roger Manno. Her endorsements include The Washington Post and the Parents Coalition, among others. Smondrowski won 22.4 percent of the vote in April’s primary election.
Christopher Barclay – Barclay currently serves as vice president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. He was elected to his first four-year term on Nov. 4, 2008, after being appointed to the Board on Dec. 9, 2006.
According to his campaign’s Facebook page, Barclay was appointed by the Governor to the Maryland Council for Educator Effectiveness. Barclay has served in a number of volunteer leadership roles with the Montgomery County Council of PTAs (MCCPTA), including Montgomery Blair cluster coordinator and MCCPTA Nominating Committee chair. He also has served on the NAACP Parents’ Council. Barclay automatically advanced to November’s general election as one of only two candidates in District 4.
Annita Seckinger - Seckinger currently volunteers as a mediator for the county and would work towards reducing the level of bullying in schools, she told Patch.
"I would work to quell the anxiety I have seen since working with these students, who really should not be watching over their shoulders in fear," Seckinger said.
Seckinger would also focus on healthier in-school meals and, what she called, a "a lack of transparency within our current Board of Education."
"It seems that a lot of our school land is being given away, while our students and taxpayers are losing on many levels," Seckinger said. "I do not understand why, and I would work to fight these types of 'giveaways.' "