Kings Contrivance will have the only contested election for village board out of the four east Columbia villages.
But that doesn't mean residents should stay home Saturday thinking their votes won't matter. A minimum of voters from each village is required to make the elections official. And there is competition for the Columbia Council seat in both Kings Contrivance and Long Reach.
The minimum is 99 voters in Kings Contrivance, 50 voters in Long Reach, and 10 percent of households in Oakland Mills and Owen Brown.
Oakland Mills village manager Susan Schmugge says the lack of competition is a "trade-off."
"The only issue now is voting, and we can focus on the fact that we need 10 percent," she says.
Of the 14 candidates running for 13 positions on the four boards, nine are current board members.
The village boards handle concerns and complaints of residents, oversee the operations of the village offices, organize community activities, and make decisions on architectural guidelines and variances.
In Kings Contrivance, four candidates are running for three seats. Incumbent Bill Sowders says he plans to promote dialogue with the Columbia Association (CA) concerning its services and assessment, or annual property charge, and work with county agencies on traffic issues. Incumbent Barbara N. Seely says she wants to help reduce the CA assessment without sacrificing "quality services" and work toward completing the village's path system.
Shayna VanMeter, a liaison to the Howard County Police Department from The Pines at Dickinson, says her "primary focus" is preventing crime in the community. Albert Genemans says he wants CA and the county to do more work on roads, sidewalks and paths, which he says are "neglected." He says he would work toward lowering the CA assessment "by whatever means possible."
In Oakland Mills, incumbents Jim Oremland and Eric H. Bauman and newcomers David A. Hatch, Ruth Cargo and Gary B. Glisan are running for the five seats. Mr. Oremland, the Architectural Committee chairman, says the village board has been a "progressive voice in Columbia affairs." His concerns are resolving traffic problems in the Stevens Forest neighborhood and architectural guideline issues.
Mr. Bauman, who filled a mid-term vacancy last year, says Columbia faces decisions regarding "tight budgets," services and "future governance and priorities." "We need creative thinking to challenge old assumptions and look for new solutions; the past shouldn't be our future guide," he says.
Mr. Hatch says he will work to "increase resident activism" and to see that the board addresses concerns over traffic patterns, maintenance of aging facilities and budgets. Ms. Cargo says she will focus on traffic, neighborhood pools, crime and "disaffected youth," and adds the board must be involved in Columbia-wide issues as residents "re-examine where our city's future lies."
Mr. Glisan says he wants to change a "trend" in which residents become involved in reaction to issues by improving communications between the board and residents.
The three candidates seeking three seats in Owen Brown -- Jay Stearman, Wanda Hurt and Walter A. Davidson -- are incumbents. Mr. Stearman and Ms. Hurt say they want to maintain the village's "quality of life." Mr. Davidson says his goal is to improve the village path system and foster "community spirit."
The two candidates for the two Long Reach positions -- Cecilia Januszkiewicz and Joseph R. "Ron" Beard -- are incumbents. Ms. Januszkiewicz says the board should seek village center improvements, assure that facilities are maintained, manage money effectively and monitor Kendall Ridge development. Mr. Beard says he wants to "return something to the community."