Montgomery and Prince George’s voters returned Democratic county executives Isiah Leggett and Rushern L. Baker III to office Tuesday, along with all of the party’s nominees for council seats.
But a proposal on the Prince George’s ballot to allow the county executive and council members to serve a maximum of three terms instead of two lost narrowly, 51 percent to 49 percent, keeping the county the only locality in the region with such a limit.
And in Montgomery, Circuit Court Judge Audrey Creighton won her bid for a 15-year term despite stirring controversy by admitting to an affair with a violent felon who was arrested after allegedly assaulting her at her home.
Voters in both counties filled nonpartisan school board seats Tuesday. Montgomery incumbents Judy Docca, Patricia O’Neill and Mike Durso won handily, while Jill Ortman-Fouse won a battle of newcomers, defeating Shebra Evans. In Prince George’s, Lupi Grady unseated incumbent Peggy Higgins while Carolyn Boston and Soyna Williams easily won reelection. A third incumbent, Amber Waller, was deadlocked with challenger Dinora Hernandez early Wednesday.
In a closely watched Anne Arundel County Council race, Republican Michael Peroutka , who has ties to an Alabama-based white supremacist group, beat Democrat Patrick Armstrong.
Republican Allan Kittleman topped Democrat Courtney Watson to succeed Ken Ulman as Howard County executive. Ulman (D) was the running mate for losing gubernatorial candidate Anthony G. Brown.
Leggett garnered 66 percent of the vote in defeating Republican Jim Shalleck. In campaigning for a third term, Leggett asked voters for a chance to govern in better times after steering the county through budget cuts and other austerity measures during the Great Recession. He pledged to attract well-paying jobs and develop a workforce with the skills to hold those jobs.
In a text message Tuesday evening, Leggett said he was gratified by the returns. “I think the result is a clear indication that the voters of Montgomery are pleased with the leadership I have provided, especially during some very difficult circumstances over the past eight years,” he said.
Baker, who ran unopposed, touted his economic-development achievements, including plans for a new regional medical center at Largo Town Center, and an MGM hotel and casino at National Harbor. He also cited a more ethical county government unsullied by the corruption that sent his predecessor, Jack B. Johnson, to prison.
Most Prince George’s incumbents, reluctant to be seen campaigning for their own longevity, took no position on ballot Question J, which proposed loosening the two-term cap on how long local officials can serve. Voters, disenchanted with incumbents, approved the limit in 1992.
Last week, Baker finally voiced support for the measure, saying the current law was slowing progress and left the county at a disadvantage with longer-tenured leaders in other jurisdictions.
But a majority of Prince George’s voters were comfortable with retiring their elected officials after two terms.
“I hate career politicians. They tend to lose touch with the people,” said Rodney Johnson, 32, a security contract specialist from Greenbelt, adding that the president has a term limit, so “why shouldn’t everybody else?”
Baker said that he was disappointed, but that he saw the result not as a reflection of voters’ opinions of him but of their misgivings about elected officials in general.
“If you ask the very same voters, [the numbers] will show I’m extremely popular,” he said.
Tenure appeared to be no issue for Montgomery council incumbents. At-large members George L. Leventhal and Nancy Floreen secured their fourth terms, and Marc Elrich his third. First-termer Hans Riemer was reelected.
Incumbents Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), Craig Rice (D-Upcounty) and Nancy Navarro (D-Mid-County) also won races for the three contested district seats. Two other Democrats ran unopposed Tuesday for open council seats. Sidney Katz will replace the retiring Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville), and Tom Hucker will succeed Cherri Branson (D-Eastern County).
In Prince George’s, there were contested races for two of nine county council seats. Democrat Todd Turner defeated Republican Fiona Moodie for the seat being vacated by term-limited Ingrid Turner (D-Bowie) (no relation to the candidate), and incumbent Derrick Leon Davis (D-Mitchellville) turned back a challenge from Republican Kenneth Blanchard. Newcomers Deni Taveras and Dannielle Glaros ran unopposed to replace two other term-limited incumbents, William A. Campos (D-Hyattsville) and Eric Olson (D-College Park). Incumbents Mary A. Lehman (D-Laurel), Andrea Harrison (D-Springdale), Karen Toles (D-Suitland), Obie Patterson (D-Fort Washington) and Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) ran unopposed.
Montgomery judicial races usually have the lowest of profiles. Challenges to sitting judges, who reach the bench through nominations controlled by the local bar, tend to be rare. But Creighton’s situation roiled the normally sedate process. Daniel Patrick Connell, virtually unknown in the county legal community, gained a place on the ballot as a fifth candidate for one of four judgeships. But his specific target was Creighton, who he alleged lacked the ethics and judgment to remain on the bench.
In 2008, before becoming a judge, Creighton was a defense attorney for Rickley Senning, who faced multiple charges, including assaulting two corrections officers. He was sentenced to five years in state prison.
After his release in 2013, Senning, now 25, moved in with Creighton, now 54, a relationship that she acknowledged was intimate. Connell charged that Creighton inappropriately assisted Senning in a legal motion in a marijuana-possession case. A year later, after Senning had moved out of Creighton’s home and then back in, he allegedly attacked her. Senning is awaiting trial and is being held on charges of assault and kidnapping.
In the race for top prosecutor in Montgomery, State’s Attorney John McCarthy was elected to another term.
All eight of Montgomery County’s school board candidates ran on the same central message: the importance of closing the academic achievement gap in an increasingly diverse county. The candidates also spoke about the urgency of relieving school crowding to meet surging enrollment and strengthening community engagement.
In the Prince George’s school board race, community engagement was also a resonating theme, along with raising academic achievement, retaining quality teachers and meeting the school system’s infrastructure needs.
Arelis R. Hernández contributed to this report.