Voters in Washington's Maryland suburbs reelected four incumbent mayors yesterday in nonpartisan municipal elections that centered on traffic, economic development and tax issues.
In Prince George's County, Greenbelt voters returned four incumbent City Council members and the mayor to office. Mayor Judith F. Davis, a 57-year-old retired schoolteacher, won another term. The candidate who wins the most votes automatically becomes mayor.
Four incumbent Greenbelt council members fended off two challengers to keep their seats. Council members Edward Putens, Rodney Roberts, Alan Turnbull and Thomas White all won reelection over challengers Bob Auerbach and Kelby Brick. White, 64, has served 13 terms, and Putens, 53, has served nine terms.
In College Park, voters threw out incumbent City Council member Sherrill T. Murray (District 1), replacing her with challenger Mark D. Shroder. The seven other incumbent council members were reelected along with Mayor Michael J. Jacobs, who ran uncontested.
In Montgomery County, Rockville Mayor Rose G. Krasnow was reelected to a third term with more than 90 percent of the vote. In addition, voters reelected three incumbent City Council members and replaced the council's only retiring member, James Marrinan, with longtime community volunteer Anne Robbins. The victory marked a clean sweep for a slate of candidates known as the Campaign for Rockville's Future.
In Takoma Park, Mayor Kathy Porter easily won a second term, and four incumbent City Council members seeking reelection were successful. Terry J. Seamens was elected to the vacant Ward 4 seat in an uncontested race, and Share Maack edged out three challengers in the crowded field to fill the vacant Ward 6 seat.
Incumbent council members Larry Rubin, Carol Stewart, Bruce Williams and Marc Elrich all won reelection.
Official tallies never will be available for one proposed referendum in Takoma Park. Last week, a Montgomery County judge ruled that city voters could not vote on a proposal to ban handguns within city limits because it conflicted with state law. So a disappointed group of anti-gun activists set up a booth outside City Hall--the city's only polling place--and asked the city's 8,207 registered voters to cast unofficial ballots on the question anyway.
The ballots were delivered under seal to Ruth Abbott, widow of the late mayor Sam Abbott. She will count the votes over the next few days.
The elections come as many suburban cities are trying to strike a balance between fostering economic growth and reducing traffic congestion on neighborhood streets. In Rockville, for example, new development along Route 355 has brought traffic into some bordering neighborhoods. In College Park, traffic congestion along Route 1 was a frequent topic of discussion.
Almost 20 percent of Rockville's 22,618 registered voters turned out to endorse Krasnow. She defeated economist Lih Young, whom she also beat in 1997. During her campaign, Krasnow pledged to improve the downtown business district and protect established neighborhoods from additional traffic.
Krasnow ran as part of a five-member slate that included incumbent council members Robert Dorsey, Glennon Harrison and Robert Wright--all of whom were easily reelected. Joining them was Robbins, who edged candidates Charlie Adams and Eric (Kuohwa) Wang for the fourth council seat.
"We have a lot of work ahead of us--traffic and transportation being first and foremost, downtown redevelopment following close on its heels," Krasnow said.
In Prince George's County, College Park voters defeated two questions asking whether they supported a property tax increase to pay for street repairs and sidewalk construction and to cover the cost of relocating utility lines along Route 1.
The City Council does not need voter permission to raise the property tax rate above the current 57 cents per $100 of assessed value. But College Park Finance Director Stephen Groh said council members wanted "to get a feel from the citizens as to how they would feel about raising taxes."
Voters in the city of 23,000 residents returned seven of the eight council incumbents to office; Murray was the only loser. Two of those seats were contested.
District 1 incumbent Lisa A. Blevins-Steel won reelection. District 2 incumbents Robert T. Catlin and John Perry successfully defended their seats against two challengers, Fannie Mae Buchanan Featherstone and Marie L. Labonte.
CAPTION: Rockville Mayor Rose G. Krasnow won with more than 90 percent of the vote.
CAPTION: Takoma Park voters sent Mayor Kathy Porter back for a second term.