Md. Voters' Choices Reflect Immigration Concerns

By Rosalind S. Helderman and Ann E. Marimow
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 6, 2007; 11:35 PM

Gaithersburg voters elected three new council members Tuesday, two of whom have expressed concerns about a day laborer center and one who ran on a platform more sympathetic to city's immigration population.

Cathy C. Drzyzgula, a member of the city's day laborer task force, and Jud Ashman, a schools activist, won seats on the five-member council, as did Ryan Spiegel, a lawyer backed by One Gaithersburg, a coalition including labor groups and the liberal advocacy group Progressive Maryland.

In Rockville, where Election Day was marred by election machine glitches, City Council member Susan Hoffman won the mayor's race by a wide margin, defeating activists Mark Pierzchala and Drew Powell. In the City Council races, incumbents Phyllis Marcuccio and Anne M. Robbins won reelection while Bob Dorsey lost his seat. Newcomers John Britton and Piotr "Peter" Gajewski won spots on the four-member council.

In Bowie, Mayor G. Frederick Robinson easily won another term and three incumbent council members held onto their seats, while District 2 council member Kevin M. Conroy lost his reelection bid. New members are Geraldine Valentino-Smith in an at-large seat, Diane M. Polangin in District 2 and Isaac C. Trouth in District 4.

Returns from College Park showed Patrick L. Wojahn and Jonathan Molinatto winning open seats in District 1, while the three-way race in District 2 remained too close to call. Three incumbents, Stephanie Stullich in District 3 and Mary C. Cook and Karen E. Hampton in District 4, won uncontested races, and newcomer Mark Cook took the second District 3 seat. Mayor Stephen A. Brayman faced no opposition.

In Greenbelt, voters reelected five City Council members: Judith F. Davis, Rodney M. Roberts, Konrad E. Herling, Edward V.J. Putens and Leta M. Mach.

Takoma Park had only one competitive race, an open seat won by Dan Robinson in Ward 3. Incumbents Colleen Clay, Terry Seamans, Reuben Snipper and Doug Barry will return to the council, along with a new member from Ward 1, Josh Wright. Bruce R. Williams ran uncontested for mayor.

Rockville's voting was complicated by a glitch. Thousands of residents who had not yet voted were mistakenly listed as having already cast absentee ballots because of a state database problem. Elections officials said most people had no trouble casting ballots on touch-screen machines, but the database error that affected some raised concerns among candidates about residents voting more than once. Voters who told poll workers that they had not cast absentee ballots were allowed to vote on the machines, and election officials said they would check to make sure there was no double voting.

The State Board of Elections, which prepares the voter database, took the blame for the problem, which affected about 11 percent of Rockville's 29,000 registered voters.

"It was our mistake, and we'll review our procedures to make sure this type of mistake doesn't happen again," said Ross Goldstein, deputy administrator for the State Board of Elections.

The confusion at polling places revived memories of widespread problems that marred the September 2006 primary. In that election, human error and technical glitches led to long lines and some voters being turned away from polls throughout Montgomery County.

The Rockville race for mayor this year was particularly hotly contested, as three candidates competed to replace three-term Mayor Larry Giammo.

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