Incumbent Phil Kauffman took a strong lead in Tuesday’s primary campaign for the at-large seat on the Montgomery County Board of Elections and entrepreneur Morris Panner appeared to secure a distant but comfortable second place. But the race continues for two final candidates for the District 2 seat.
The two top vote getters in each race will continue on to the general election on Nov. 3.
With all the precincts reporting, and 66,686 votes tallied, Fred Evans, the former Gaithersburg principal, was in first place in District 2 with about 25 percent of the vote, or 16,519 votes. (See latest results here.) But fewer than 500 votes separated the second and third place contenders. Rebecca Smondrowski,
a former legislative aide, had 14,951 votes and Jeanne Ellinport, a public affairs consultant, was not far behind with 14,497 votes. (See candidate bios here.)
Susan Byrne, who moved to Montgomery County just seven months ago, also had a strong showing with 13,839 votes or 21 percent of the vote.
Fred Evans, reached by telephone Wednesday, said it was too soon to call the race. “It’s not a gigantic lead,” he said. “But I feel pretty good today.”
Results will not be finalized until later this month and there are still more than 3,000 absentee ballots and more than 1,000 provisional ballots to be counted, said Marjorie Rohrer, spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
In the At-Large race, Phil Kauffman had 60 percent of the vote, and Panner won about 17 percent, more than 3,000 votes ahead of third place contender Lou August, a former chief executive of a technology firm.
School board primaries often have low visibility and low turnout. Tuesday’s race was even more problematic than most. The election took place during Spring Break, so many teachers and parents of school-aged children were out of town. In all, 15 percent of registered voters cast ballots — the lowest turnout during a presidential primary since 1976, Rohrer said.
In the District 2 race, Ellinport ran one of the most visible campaigns, with signs dotting tree lawns and telephone polls throughout the county. She, along with Evans, also earned the influential endorsement of the teachers union.
Ali Saqib, a former state delegate, ran as an “independent” candidate who wanted to challenge “group-think” on the board. He came in last with 6,880 or about 10 percent of the vote.