Marilynn Bland ousted in Prince George’s primary; Distr. 2 council race too close to call


Marilynn Bland, Clerk of the Court in Prince George's County, stands in front of the Prince George's County Courthouse on May 5 in Upper Marlboro. (Amanda Voisard/For the Washington Post)

Marilynn Bland, a veteran and controversial Prince George’s County politician, lost her reelection bid for clerk of the Circuit Court on Tuesday, falling to her former employee Sydney Harrison in the Democratic primary.

There was no clear winner in the closely watched County Council race between Democrats Deni Taveras and Del. Doyle L. Niemann in District 2. With all precincts reporting, the two candidates were separated by just a handful of votes.

The heavily Latino district is represented by outgoing council member William A. Campos (D-Hyattsville), who was running for a seat in the House of Delegates and was unopposed in the primary. Campos was the first Hispanic council member, and he backed Taveras, who is vying to become the first Hispanic woman to serve on the council. Taveras also has the support of her former boss, Sen. Victor R. Ramirez (D-Prince George’s).

Bland, the Circuit Court clerk, has held political office in Prince George’s for 18 years, serving as a school board member, County Council member and the last four as the court clerk. She has won previous reelections despite accusations of misspending, plagiarism and assault during her time in office.

Harrison beat her by a 3-to-2 margin, according to results from nearly 100 percent of precincts on Wednesday morning. Bland was the only incumbent in local county races to lose.

“The way it’s looking is the citizens of Prince George’s County spoke, and it’s a clear indication of what they want,” Harrison said late Tuesday.

Harrison was endorsed by top county Democratic leaders, including County Executive Rushern L. Baker III. Many of Harrison’s volunteers were also former Bland employees. Bland, who was seeking her second term as court clerk, was also challenged by former clerk Peggy Magee, who finished third, and Sarah B. Abdul-mumin.

With no Republican challenger in the fall, Harrison appeared to be the winner of the office.

Election workers at polling places across the county reported slow turnout throughout the day.

The future of the county was in the forefront of Ellen Floyd’s mind Tuesday as she prepared to vote for a council member. She has lived in the county for 40 years and said she wants to see increased economic development and a decrease in crime.

“I see the county as being in a standstill,” said Floyd, 66.

Hyattsville resident Gladys Arias, 54, who voted for the first time since she was naturalized last year, said she cast her ballot for Taveras in the District 2 race because the campaign came to her doorstep — and because Taveras speaks Spanish.

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In District 4, Democrat Todd Turner won with a comfortable lead over former police union president Vince Canales, who had Baker’s endorsement. And Dannielle Glaros in District 3 won with more than three-quarters of the vote.

In District 6, Derrick Leon Davis (D-Mitchellville) won with a nearly 3-to-1 margin over his closest rival, labor lobbyist and former state delegate Gerron S. Levi.

Karen R. Toles (D-Suitland), who represents District 7, won with about two-thirds of the vote. Toles had been the subject of an online video parody in which her opponents accused her of outlawing dancing in Prince George’s after she sponsored a bill that gave police sweeping power to close dance halls.

Most council races will have no Republican challengers in November, except in District 4 and District 6.

In the school board races, voters chose among 10 candidates vying for three district seats on the 13-member board.

The school board races are nonpartisan, and the top two vote-getters for each seat will face off in November.

Baker, who sought a takeover of the school system last year and was given more power under a new governance structure approved by state lawmakers, took a special interest in the school board races and endorsed candidates who, he said, shared his vision for the long-struggling school system.

Board Vice Chairman Carolyn M. Boston, who received Baker’s backing, and Pat Fletcher, who lost Boston four years ago, were the top vote-getters in District 6, setting the stage for a November rematch of that 2010 contest.

Amber Waller, who has served on the board since 2007, was the top vote getter in District 3, followed by Dinora Hernandez, who was endorsed by Baker.

Sonya Williams, a newcomer on the board who was appointed by Baker this year, was the top vote-getter in District 9, followed by Domonique A. Flowers.

If Baker’s preferred candidates win the general election, the county executive will have had a hand in selecting or supporting a majority of the board, which is expected to give him an even greater say over the running of the school system.

Jenna Johnson contributed to this report.

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
Arelis Hernández covers Prince George’s County as part of The Washington Post's local staff.
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