This story was updated at 6:30 p.m. July 20, 2022, to clarify Kate Stewart’s role with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

The races for County Council Districts 2, 3, and 4 in the Democratic primary remained too close to call Wednesday, as some of Tuesday’s Election Day results and the tally of tens of thousands of mail-in ballots remained outstanding.

In the District 4 race, however, Amy Ginsburg — who currently is in second place in the vote count— acknowledged Wednesday that it would be difficult to make up ground on front-runner Kate Stewart.

Stewart, the mayor of Takoma Park, was leading a field of five candidates in that race, according to the latest results from the State Board of Elections. She had 5,708 votes (44.5%) and Ginsburg, executive director of a nonprofit in North Bethesda, had 4,016 votes (31.3%). Del. Al Carr (D-Kensington) trailed in third place with 2,575 votes (20%).

Republican Cheryl Riley is running unopposed in District 2. 

District 4 covers North Bethesda and stretches through Kensington, Silver Spring and Takoma Park. In a brief interview, Ginsburg did not concede to Stewart, but said it would be difficult to make up the difference in the vote tally through mail-in ballots.

“I think realistically, practically, I’m not sure the mail-in ballots will be all that different proportionally than early voting and Election Day [ballots],” Ginsburg said.

Both Ginbsurg and Stewart, in interviews, thanked each other and the other three candidates — John Zittrauer, Troy Murtha and Carr — for conducting civil debate on the campaign trail. Ginsburg said she was pleased to see how engaged voters were during the campaign and she was glad for the opportunity to highlight her work on issues related to affordable housing, economic development and infrastructure.

Stewart thanked her campaign staff and volunteers for their efforts, but said she’s still waiting to see what happens with the mail-in ballot returns before declaring possible victory. 

She said she heard positive feedback from voters about her governing experience, including as mayor of Takoma Park and as former secretary-treasurer of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. She currently serves as vice president of the latter’s board.

She also noted that her campaign started engaging voters heavily in January through meet-and-greets, phone calls and other events.

In the District 3 race — an area which includes Rockville and Gaithersburg — incumbent Sidney Katz led a three-person field with 4,269 votes (58%). Robert Wu, a Gaithersburg City Council member, was in second place with 2,465 votes (33.5%). Republican George Hernandez is running unopposed in District 3.

Katz, who served as the mayor of Gaithersburg from 1998 to 2014, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about his chances of winning a third four-year term. Like other candidates, he’s waiting to see the results of the mail-in ballot tally.

Katz believes that having name recognition helped, but also thinks his overall experience was important to voters. His skills as a consensus builder and problem solver will be important on a council with multiple new members, he said.

“I’m somebody who has lived in Montgomery County my entire life, and I have lifelong friends that I saw yesterday that went in and voted for me,” Katz said.

Wu could not immediately be reached for comment by phone Tuesday.

Another head-to-head matchup is likely in District 2, according to the latest State Board of Elections results. Marilyn Balcombe, president/CEO of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce, leads in a three-person field with 3,653 votes (47%). 

Like Katz, Balcombe said she was “cautiously optimistic” about her chances. She called her lead over William Roberts — a former staff member of Rep. Jamie Raskin who had 2,243 votes (29%) — a “significant, stable lead,” but was waiting to see how the mail-in ballot results would impact the race. Republican Dan Cuda is running unopposed in District 2.

She pointed to her endorsements and strong fundraising as some of the reasons behind her solid start.

Roberts said he’s also waiting on news about the mail-in ballots, adding that he’s proud to have run in a field of such strong candidates — including Lorna Phillips Forde, who ran for an at-large seat in 2018. She received 1,880 votes (24%).

“Anybody who is telling you what final results are, whether they’re running for governor or County Council — unless you have someone with a million dollars prognosticating what is in these mail-in ballots — it all would be speculation,” Roberts said.

The counting of mail-in ballots begins Thursday. More than 25,000 mail-in ballots have been received, with thousands more likely to come, a spokesman for the county’s Board of Elections said Wednesday.

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

Steve Bohnel

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