The makeup of the Baltimore City Council likely won’t change much in the next term, with a majority of the 15 current members posting large leads in Tuesday’s primary election.

Several incumbents, facing lesser-known or scantily funded opponents, were poised to handily win their races. Two members, Odette Ramos and Mark Conway, ran unopposed. Two other seats, in Baltimore’s 1st and 8th districts, were wide open for the taking after councilmembers Zeke Cohen and Kristerfer Burnett said last year that they would not seek re-election, with Cohen throwing his hat in the ring for City Council president and Burnett planning to retire from politics.

In the first wave of returns reported Tuesday night, Pastor Mark Parker held an early advantage over competitors Liam Davis and Joseph Koehler in Cohen’s district; Cohen also appeared far ahead of incumbent Nick Mosby and former City Councilwoman Shannon Sneed. In the 8th District, frontrunners Paris Gray and Bilal Ali were about neck-and-neck.

In deep-blue Baltimore, where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by a whopping 10-to-1 margin, the Democratic primary race tends to determine the outcome of the general election. While some of Tuesday’s finishers will advance to matchups in the fall, those races are typically not competitive.

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While voters could see some changes in the mayor’s seat, most City Council incumbents looked poised to nab re-nomination.

Some of Tuesday’s contests saw heavy spending, battles for key endorsements and divisions among voters. In Baltimore’s 3rd district, incumbent Ryan Dorsey faced two challengers, including Margo Bruner-Settles, who received substantial backing from incumbents Eric Costello and Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer.

With the night’s first results trickling in, Dorsey had captured more than 60% of the district’s support.

Costello’s race, in Baltimore’s 11th district, also heated up as political newcomer Zac Blanchard used the city’s new public financing system to challenge the incumbent, who received the lone endorsement in a city race from Gov. Wes Moore. That race is among Baltimore’s most expensive contests this cycle. With 9 of 19 precincts accounted for, Costello led Blanchard by a little more than 100 votes.

On the city’s East Side, Jermaine Jones, a longtime labor leader, saw an April surge in fundraising from unions and special interest groups in his bid to unseat City Councilman Robert Stokes. He outraised the incumbent by a stunning 25-to-1 margin over the last fundraising period.

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By late Tuesday night, he had mounted a slight edge over Stokes, though the race was still too close to call.

Mayor Scott spent part of the day at Beechfield Elementary/Middle School Tuesday afternoon, where he canvassed with 8th district candidate Gray. The City Council hopeful wore a “Duly Elected Incumbent” sweatshirt, a nod to Scott, as he talked to voters.

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Scott said he had endorsed in several City Council races — but not in District 1, where he said he couldn’t make a decision. He also declined to endorse in the 12th district; he said either Stokes or Jones would represent the district well.

Meanwhile, in other races:

At the polls Tuesday, voters shared a mix of praise and dissatisfaction for their council representatives. Some described their votes as unenthusiastic ones while others have backed the same candidate for years.

Wayno Amonra walked up and down the sidewalks in front of Liberty Elementary passing out pamphlets with Sharon Green Middleton’s name emblazoned on them. He credited her for rebuilding playgrounds, bringing city money to local recreation centers and improving Park Heights.

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”She didn’t have to pay me to be out here,” he said. “It’s about the work being done in our community.”

Candidates also went out in the rain, trying to sway last-minute voters.

Dorsey and Bruner-Settles were campaigning outside Northwood Elementary School around lunchtime. Bike lanes, Bruner-Settlers said, was a “hot topic” in the district. So much so that one voter, Yolanda Curtis, 42, supported her over Dorsey due to that lone issue.

Curtis said she thinks the bike lanes in her district are an eyesore, cause accidents, and bike lane barriers often get knocked over and litter the streets.

Dorsey disagreed with Bruner-Settlers.

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”No, people are not coming out here because of the bike lanes,” Dorsey said in between bites of a fried chicken sandwich from Ekiben. Baltimore voters are not single-issue voters, he said, and people came out to vote today because of the important slate of candidates. Dorsey said he was confident he would win every district precinct.

Letta Grant, who casted her ballot at Northwood Elementary School, said the most important issue to her this election season is abortion rights, but at a local level she wanted to make sure she cast a vote for Dorsey.

”He really comes and does stuff. I’ve seen him in person like five times,” Grant said. “He’s always working.”

The council, tasked with introducing and passing bills that can become law in Baltimore, also is responsible for fielding and responding to constituent service requests. Many of the members hold part-time jobs to supplement their incomes, and a proposed ballot measure backed by Sinclair Inc. Executive Chairman David Smith seeks to reduce the size of the council from 14 districts to eight — an initiative that many of the current members oppose. Voters could decide whether to shrink the council as soon as November.

The ballot questions are due to the state board of elections this summer and must receive either a council vote or a certain number of valid signatures to be considered. In addition to deciding whether to decrease the size of the council, voters in November may also weigh whether to approve residential zoning at Harborplace; whether to slash the city’s property tax rate by cutting funding from Baltimore’s budget; and whether large “anchor institutions” such as Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland should be required to pay more in property taxes than they do now.

Baltimore Banner reporter Kristen Griffith contributed to this report.

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