With all precincts reported, just 15 votes separated two Democrats vying to represent central Baltimore County’s 6th District on the County Council.
First-time candidate Shafiyq Hinton, who is backed by County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., held the nominal lead over longtime Towson activist Mike Ertel Wednesday — with more than 35,000 ballots left to go.
State Del. Patrick “Pat” Young seems poised to seal the Democratic primary for the council’s other open seat in the southwestern 1st District, winning 45.9% of the vote — a 699-vote lead — of Wednesday.
The five incumbent councilmen appear likely to retain their parties’ nomination.
The county elections board has received just over half of the more than 70,000 mail-in ballots requested as of Wednesday. Mail-in ballots won’t start to be canvassed until Thursday and it could take several days, or possibly weeks, for winners to be declared.
Hinton, a 30-year-old realtor who quickly raised more than Ertel with big-dollar donations after being endorsed by Olszewski and two council Democrats, refiled to run for the council seat just before the mid-April deadline — he pivoted from a run for State Senate after his Middle River home was placed outside of the legislative district in which he’d been campaigning.
The political newcomer from Parkville is up against Ertel, 56, who represented the interests of more than two dozen Towson community associations for years as president of the organization now called the Towson Communities Alliance.
Hinton wants to reduce classroom sizes and ensure that state and county dollars for school construction are distributed equitably, make it easier for local businesses to access subsidies, and spend more on recruiting efforts for sworn officers and first responders. He’s been endorsed by the Blue Guardians, a group that represents Black officers in the Baltimore County Police Department.
Hinton has also said he’s open to a separate person overseeing the ethics commission to give the inspector general “more time to focus on government inefficiencies.” The commission reviews financial disclosures and investigates whether county employees have violated public ethics laws.
Ertel, a Towson resident from northeastern Baltimore City, wants to course-correct students’ educational outcomes and create more vocational training programs, bolster public safety with police-monitored cameras and by hiring more mental health professionals, create more walkable paths, and ensure the independence of the Office of the Inspector General.
Towson resident Trish Mayhugh, 67, said she cast her ballot for Ertel because “he’s a good guy who has worked so hard with different communities” over the years.
As a community activist, Ertel made efforts to resolve school overcrowding and improve school infrastructure. Towson-area Democrats elected him in the 2010 primary for County Council, but he lost to Republican Councilman David Marks in the general.
Ertel and Hinton are competing for the Democratic vote to represent the redrawn 6th District after newly-adopted council boundaries bumped voters in Towson — the county seat — from the 5th District to one that also includes Rosedale, Overlea and Middle River.
The primary winner will go on to face Republican Tony Campbell, an adjunct professor in Towson University’s political science department and organizer of the group Reopen Baltimore County, which protested Olszewski’s ordered restrictions as the coronavirus pandemic mounted in Maryland in 2020. Campbell ran unopposed in the primary.
Rosedale resident Jessie Karangu, 29, said he voted for Hinton Tuesday in part because he relates to the candidate.
Like Karangu, who is Kenyan-American, Hinton is “a Black man who understands the issues that affect me,” like relationships between police and members of his community, Karangu said. He and Hinton were classmates at Eastern Technical High School in Essex, and he always knew Hinton to be “a leader and a motivator.”
“He’s somebody who is really going to represent me,” Karangu said after casting his ballot at Overlea High School.
Young, 39, an Olszewski-endorsed Democrat who’s represented parts of southwestern Baltimore County in the State House since 2015, held a 699-vote lead Paul Dongarra, 52, a former business owner and local land use activist, for the open seat to represent Catonsville, Arbutus, Halethorpe and areas of Woodlawn.
If he wins the primary, Young, a U.S. Marine veteran from Catonsville, will face Albert “Al” Nalley, who was nominated by the Republican Central Committee and ran uncontested.
The Democratic council members representing the 1st and 6th districts, Tom Quirk and Cathy Bevins, have supported Young and Hinton as their last terms draw to a close. Neither is running for reelection.
Incumbent Councilman Izzy Patoka, 64, was ahead by 4,137 votes Wednesday in the Democratic race to represent the 2nd District after it was redrawn to reduce the white population to less than 50%.
A federal judge ordered the County Council to create a district where Black voters at least have a chance to elect their candidate of choice after residents and civil rights groups sued the council for failing to create a second majority-Black district when the county is 30% Black and six of the council’s seven members are white.
Patoka had more than 71.4% of the vote Wednesday in his run against challenger Tony Fugett, who stepped down last year after serving for decades as the Baltimore County NAACP president.
Fugett, 69, was among those who sued over the county’s redistricting map, which they alleged violated federal voting rights laws.
The winner will face Republican James Amos, who ran unopposed, in November. Council Chair Julian Jones, also unopposed in the primary, will campaign against Randallstown Republican Kim Bryant, a former paralegal in the state budget department’s legal section, in the western 4th District’s general election.
Republican councilman Wade Kach, 75, is expected to defeat lone opponent Roberto Zanotta, a Parkton resident who pledged to prevent affordable housing development in the county’s northern 3rd District, which also includes Lutherville-Timonium. Kach had 71.5% of his party’s vote Wednesday.
Sparks Democrat Paul Henderson, 56, who ran unopposed in the council primary, is challenging the two-term incumbent in the general election. Henderson wants to grow agritourism in the rural counties, power municipal operations with more renewable energy and ensure the distribution of school construction dollars is equitable.
Marks, a Perry Hall Republican who’s running for a fourth term in the 5th District — which now runs from the Harford County line to Middle River — had 80.4% of the primary vote Wednesday, well ahead of his primary opponent, health care consultant Philip DePalo.
In the district’s Democratic primary, Crystal Francis, 37, was ahead of candidate Nick Johnson, 32, by almost 1,000 votes Wednesday. Francis, who chairs the Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee, had more than 67% of the vote.
Councilman Todd Crandell holds the line for the Republican nomination to represent the southeastern district surrounding Essex and Dundalk. With 72% of the vote Wednesday, Crandell was handily fending off challenger Donna Eve Sekora, former owner of Donna’s Tavern & Restaurant in Dundalk.
Crandell, if the ballots left to count remain in his favor, would run for a second term against 26-year-old Democrat Justin Holliday, a Dundalk resident and special education teacher.