… A wrap-up of what’s on the ballot …
By Allan Vought | Record staff
A majority of Harford County and Cecil County voters are expected to head to their local polling places Tuesday for the 2010 general election headlined by the rematch in the governor’s race between Republican Bob Ehrlich and incumbent Democrat Martin O’Malley.
There are numerous contested local races in both counties, including sheriff, the chief law enforcement officer in both, and in the state legislative district that spans southern Harford, including Aberdeen and Havre de Grace, and western Cecil.
Also on the ballot in Cecil County is a local question to approve a home rule charter, which would mean replacing the county commissioner board with a county executive and county council, similar to Harford County’s government. Five previous attempts to pass a charter in Cecil have been rejected by county voters.
Cecil voters will also have a major say in the outcome of the First Congressional District battle between incumbent Rep. Frank Kratovil and Andy Harris, one of the most expensive and closely watched contests in the whole country.
Two popular figures, one in each county, are expected to breeze to victory in other key races: Harford County Executive David Craig, of Havre de Grace, is running for a second term, opposed by Constitution Party candidate Mark Fisher, while in Cecil County’s 4th County Commissioner District encompassing Perryville and Port Deposit, former county school superintendent Carl Roberts, a Democrat from Perryville, is opposed by Republican Diana Broomell, the director of Havre de Grace Main Street who also lives in Perryville. Roberts defeated incumbent commissioner Wayne Tome in the Democratic primary.
Cecil voters in the Perryville and Port Deposit areas will also vote in the election for a 4th District seat on the county school board between Bill Herold, of Port Deposit, and Donna Marie Zane, of Rising Sun.
In Cecil, incumbent Sheriff Barry Janney, a Republican, is opposed by Democrat Barry Sutton, while in Harford, incumbent Sheriff Jesse Bane, a Democrat, is opposed by Republican Jeff Gahler. Both incumbents are favored, although their challengers have made both races interesting.
Final registration figures in advance of the general election show 149,048 people are eligible to vote in Harford County, including 63,099 Republicans and 62,098 Democrats, an advantage of 1,001 for the Republicans, which has expanded by almost 700 since the primary. There are 23,851 local voters who are either Independents or registered with minor parties.
In Cecil County, 59,741 residents are registered to vote for the general election, including 24,494 Democrats and 22,826 Republicans and 12,421 who are either not affiliated with any party or registered with a third party.
Jim Massey, Harford’s elections director, said last week he expects his county’s total turnout for the general election to approach 65 percent.
Early voting for the general election began last Friday and continued through Thursday evening at the single site in Harford, the Bel Air branch of the Harford County Public Library.
By 1 p.m. Thursday, 9,456 ballots had been cast early in Harford, about 6.3 percent of the total registered.
In Cecil County, 2,680 early votes were cast at the county administration building in Elkton from last Friday until the polling place closed Wednesday, about 4.5 percent of the total registered.
On Election Day Tuesday, Harford’s 73 polling places and Cecil’s 19 polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The National Weather Service extended forecast for Tuesday in the Havre de Grace ZIP Code is partly sunny, with a high near 56 and a 50 percent chance of showers both during the day and in the evening.
Here’s a rundown of what’s on Tuesday’s ballot:
Harford County Council
County Council President Billy Boniface is unopposed, as is Aberdeen area Councilman Dick Slutzky. Boniface is seeking a second term, Slutzky a third. Both are Republicans.
Havre de Grace area Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti, a Democrat, is seeking a second term and is opposed by Republican Sheryl Davis Kohl.
Harford courthouse races
The headliner is the race for sheriff between incumbent Democrat Bane, who is seeking a second term, and Republican Gahler, a career member of the state police, who won a four-way Republican primary in September.
Also being contested — for the first time since 1986 — is the office of register of wills, where the race is between Republican Derek Hopkins and Democrat Tom Hopkins. The winner will replace retiring Register of Wills Harry L.W. Hopkins and, yes, despite the Hopkins versus Hopkins to replace Hopkins trifecta, none of the three is closely related.
Incumbent State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly, a Republican, is unopposed running for his eighth term.
Clerk of the Circuit Court James Reilly, a Republican, is unopposed running for his third term.
Cecil courthouse races
In addition to the race for sheriff between Republican incumbent Janney and Democrat Sutton, incumbent States Attorney Christopher Eastridge, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican Ellis Rollins III.
Incumbent Register of Wills Allyn “Lyn” Price Nickel, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican F. Gaylord Moody III.
Incumbent Clerk of the Circuit Court William Brueckman, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican Derrick Lowe.
Incumbent County Treasurer Pamela Howard, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican Bill Feehley.
District 34 legislature
Three-term State Sen. Nancy Jacobs, a Republican from Harford County, is facing a stiff challenge from former senator Art Helton, a Democrat who is also from Harford, in District 34, which spans the southern third of Harford County, to include Havre de Grace and Aberdeen, and the western half of Cecil County to include Perryville and Port Deposit.
In the two-seat House of Delegates subdistrict 34A in southern Harford and Port Deposit, incumbent Democrat Del. Mary-Dulany James, of Havre de Grace, and Democrat Marla Posey-Moss, of Aberdeen, are opposed by Republicans Patrick McGrady, of Aberdeen, and Glen Glass, of Aberdeen. One of these two seats became open after Democrat Del. Dan Riley lost in the primary.
In the single seat House of Delegates subdistrict 34B in Cecil County, four-term incumbent Del. David Rudolph, a Democrat from Rising Sun, is opposed by Republican Theodore Patterson, of Perryville, and Constitution Party candidate Michael Dawson, of Perryville.
The Erhlich-O’Malley rematch from four years ago is drawing just about all of the interest locally and around the state, but there are still races for other statewide offices.
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Democrat who is seeking a fifth term, is opposed by Republican Eric Wargotz. Both the governor and the U.S. Senate ballots also contain names of third party or independent candidates.
Incumbent Comptroller Peter Franchot, a Democrat, is opposed by Republican William Henry Campbell. Attorney General Douglas Gansler, a Democrat, has no opposition.
The Kratovil versus Harris race for Congress in the First District, which in addition to Cecil includes the other eight Eastern Shore counties, central Harford and parts of Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties, is drawing most of the interest for local voters. But Harford voters who live in Havre de Grace and Aberdeen and elsewhere along the Route 40 corridor will have a say in the Second Congressional District race where Democrat incumbent Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger is opposed by Republican Marcelo Cardarelli and Libertarian Lorenzo Gaztanaga.
State ballot questions
There are three statewide ballot questions this year.
Question 1 asks voters whether a convention should be called to update the state constitution. Voting against the question, which is required to put to voters every 20 years, would mean the voter is against calling such a question.
Question 2 is a constitutional amendment to place a greater limitation on the right to seek a jury trial in civil matters by raising the minimum monetary claim threshold from the current $10,000 to $15,000. A vote against the question is a vote against the amendment.
Question 3 is a constitutional amendment pertaining only to Baltimore City that will require future members of the city’s orphans court to be lawyers. No such requirement will be imposed if the amendment fails.