Campaign signs line grass near Veterans Plaza outside the Silver Spring Civic Building on Tuesday. Credit: Photo By Steve Bohnel

The races for County Council Districts 5, 6, and 7 feature nearly two dozen Democrats running for three seats representing new districts. And with results from early voting and many of the election-day precinct totals counted, none of the races could be called as of early Wednesday for any Democratic candidate.

The District 5 race was narrowing to two candidates who would likely win the Democratic nomination. That district covers the eastern part of the county, spanning from White Oak to Burtonsville, and also includes White Oak and Colesville. 

Kristin Mink, a former Montgomery County Public Schools teacher and community organizer, led a field of eight candidates with 3,740 votes (40.46%), according to unofficial results from the Maryland State Board of Elections as of around 11:45 p.m.. Fatama Barrie, an immigration attorney who has served on the East County Citizens Advisory Board for six years, trailed in second place with 2,433 votes (25.63%). Jeremiah Pope, a political fundraiser, was in third with 1,406 votes (14.81%).

County officials say it’s unlikely that close races will be called as of Wednesday morning because election workers aren’t allowed to start counting mail-in ballots until Thursday due to state law.

According to State Board of Elections data, 115,289 mail-in ballots had been delivered to voters in Montgomery County. As of Monday night, 29,388 had been received by the county Board of Elections.

Mink says the county has underinvested in East County, particularly in economic development and public school infrastructure. Barrie has called on county officials to do a better job of investing in small businesses, especially those that are owned by minorities and women. And Pope noted that the county must do a better job of ensuring Montgomery County Public Schools are equitably funded, in order to avoid school crowding and segregation. 

Two candidates emerged as front-runners for the Democratic nomination in District 6, an area centered in Wheaton. Natali Fani-Gonzalez, a former Planning Board member, led that race with 4,476 votes (53.51%). Maricé Morales, a former state delegate, was far behind but in second, with 1,396  votes (16.69%). 

During her campaign, Fani-Gonzalez emphasized that more needs to be done regarding economic development in order to bring higher-paying jobs to the county. She also says the county’s pedestrian and bicycle network is not as safe as it could be and said county officials must do more to advocate for federal funding to create safer streets. 

Morales has focused on redevelopment and affordable housing. Part of that, she said, is furthering her work on homebuyer assistance programs. Morales also said that county officials need to do a better job of recruiting mental health specialists, including for public schools. 

The District 7 race also saw two names familiar to local politics leading the way in a seven-candidate field. That district covers the northeastern part of the county, from Ashton to Damascus, and also includes Brookeville, Derwood and several other communities.

Dawn Luedtke, an assistant attorney general for the state, was leading that field with 1,576 votes (33.70%) as of about 11:45 p.m. Jacqueline Manger, a senior official within the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, trailed in second with 1,167 votes, or 24.95% of the total ballots cast in that race. 

On the campaign trail, Luedtke spoke about traffic congestion and speeding issues in her neighborhoods and said she would use her connections at the state level to create better solutions at the local level, particular in criminal justice.

Manger, who described herself as more fiscally conservative than many of her Democratic friends, agreed that making roads safer is a priority. She added that more money does need to be invested in the county’s most vulnerable families.

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com

Steve Bohnel

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com