Ulman is leading Merdon

Democrats are ahead in four of five County Council districts

Howard County

Maryland Votes 2006 -- A Special Section

November 08, 2006|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN REPORTER

Democrat Ken Ulman was building a strong lead over Republican Christopher J. Merdon in the race for Howard County executive last night, with more than three quarters of the precincts reporting.

"All the numbers are not in, but everything we've seen certainly looks great," Ulman told a cheering crowd of supporters at 11 p.m. Democrats also led in four of the five county council districts as well.

Greg Fox was the only GOP council candidate ahead.

Merdon made an emotional speech to his supporters before 11 p.m., though he did not concede. "I'm extremely proud of what we've accomplished together," he said, appearing to choke back tears. "We've run an extremely positive campaign. I know I can wake up in the morning and kiss [his children] Nicholas' and April's faces. They will know everything their daddy did was the right thing for Howard County."

Later, at a GOP gathering at Ten Oaks Ballroom, Merdon said "We had the right messages, but the wrong year."

Independent county executive candidate C. Stephen Wallis was trailing badly.

The school board is increasing from five to seven members. Frank Aquino was leading late last night, followed by Sandra H. French, Patricia S. Gordon, Lawrence H. Cohen and Ellen Flynn Giles. Board chairman Joshua M. Kaufman was in jeopardy of losing.

Complicating the picture are more than 7,200 absentee ballots yet to be counted.

Ulman, 32, a west Columbia Democrat, had a built-in advantage in a county where there are 21,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans.

Merdon, 35, of Ellicott City sought Democratic and unaffiliated voters with an aggressive campaign centering on opposition to growth, especially in older neighborhoods.

Ulman, who was born and raised in the planned city, opposed plans for a planned 23-story residential/retail tower near The Mall and said that his opponent voted against a tax increase used to fund county schools, libraries and other services.

The election will usher in a virtually new County Council, with only one member, recently appointed east Columbia Democrat Calvin Ball, running to keep his seat.

Democrats Courtney Watson, Ball, Jen Terrasa, Mary Kay Sigaty and Don Dunn are running in Districts 1 through 5, respectively, opposed by Republicans Tony Salazar, Gina Ellrich, Donna Thewes, Tom D'Asto and Greg Fox.

Howard's school board is expanding from five to seven members, and voters had to elect five from among 10 candidates running. Two current board members - Joshua Kaufman and Patricia Gordon - were running. The others are Frank Aquino, Larry Cohen, Allen Dyer, Sandra H. French, Ellen Flynn Giles, Roger Lerner, Janet Siddiqui and Di Zou. Donald Marston, a candidate who was eliminated in the primary, tried a write-in campaign.

In courthouse races, lawyer David A. Titman is challenging two sitting judges, trying to capture one of two Circuit Court judgeships being sought by Ehrlich administration appointees Louis A. Becker and Richard S. Bernhardt.

In the sheriff's race, Democrat James F. Fitzgerald is running against Republican Timothy Galt.

larry.carson@baltsun.com

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