Maryland incumbents mostly held onto power Tuesday in several town and city elections, with relatively weak voter turnout despite some heated local races.
College Park, home to the state’s flagship university, elected its first openly gay mayor, Patrick Wojahn, who will lead the city through what is expected to be an intense period of growth. Wojahn will preside over an eight-member city council, three members of which supported his opponent in the election.
Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton won another term, withstanding a challenge from Sima Osdoby and a slate of council candidates that was critical of Newton’s push to limit building and development in the Montgomery County seat. Elected officials in Rockville will, for the first time, serve terms of four years instead of two.
Elsewhere in the region, incumbents swept mayoral and city council elections in Bowie, Laurel and Greenbelt, which included just a handful of open seats. In Gaithersburg, interim mayor Jud Ashman prevailed in a three-way race to fill the unexpired term of former mayor Sidney Katz, who is now on the county council.
Between 8 and 18 percent of registered voters in Maryland cities and towns cast ballots in the mostly nonpartisan elections, which observers said featured some of the most competitive contests in decades.
In College Park, Wojahn — who holds a seat on the city council — raised a record amount of money for a mayoral race: $16,000. He was endorsed by the outgoing mayor and allied himself with council candidates who share his goal of strengthening the city’s partnership with the university.
Wojahn sparred with opponent Denise Mitchell, the mayor pro tempore, who said she would advocate for longtime residents wary of Wojahn’s redevelopment vision and resentful of his vote as a council member to lower the eligibility age for elected city officials from 21 to 18.
Wojahn captured about 58 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results. The election drew 12 percent of College Park’s 17,000 registered voters.
On the council, incumbents Fazlul Kabir, Stephanie Stullich, Robert Day, Monroe Dennis and P.J. Brennan were elected, according to the unofficial returns, along with newcomers Mary C. Cook, Dustyn B. Kujawa and Christine Nagle.
Because Stullich and Day won the two District 3 seats by a narrow margin, a recount will be conducted, officials said.
Cory Sanders, who was running for a District 1 seat and misstated some of his employment status and credentials on campaign materials, placed third in the balloting for those two seats.
In Rockville, the reelection of Beryl Feinberg to the four-person council meant at least one ally for Newton, the mayor. But victories by three candidates who ran against Newton’s platform on the “Team Rockville” slate mean that the mayor will face opposition as well. Those winners were Virginia Olney, Julie Palakovich Carr and onetime mayoral candidate Mark Pierzchala. About 16 percent of Rockville voters cast ballots.
Bowie Mayor Fred Robinson was reelected to his ninth term, with 64 percent of the vote, defeating two challengers. On Bowie’s city council, every race was contested, but Diane Polanguin and Isaac Trouth held on to their seats. Henri Gardner and James Marcos left their district seats to capture at-large council spots.
Courtney Glass and Michael Estève won crowded races to fill the seats that Gardner and Marcos vacated.
Like their counterparts in Rockville, the new elected officials will be the first to serve four-year terms, a change Bowie voters approved in 2013, said city spokeswoman Una Cooper.
In Greenbelt, all incumbents on the city council were reelected and will choose a mayor from among their ranks. Traditionally, that choice has gone to the top vote-getter, which would mean another term for Mayor Emmett Jordan.
Laurel’s mayor and city council also were reelected across the board.
In Gaithersburg, two sitting council members, Neil Harris and Ryan Spiegel, were the top vote-getters and won another term. A third candidate, Robert Wu, was elected to fill an open seat on the five-member council.
Kate Stewart will become Takoma Park’s new mayor, according to unofficial results on the city’s Web site. Incumbents Tim Male, Terry Seamens, Jarrett Smith and Fred Schultz won their elections for another term on the city council, while Peter Kovar and Rizwan “Rizzy” Qureshi captured the two open seats.