Bowie voters appear to be quite happy with their municipal government. Only about 11 percent of the city’s eligible voters went to the polls yesterday. And those that voted swept Bowie’s incumbent city council back into office.
It was also a day where and unethical and there was a dispute about how close to the polls one candidate was campaigning.
There are 40,372 eligible voters in the city, of who 4,420 cast ballots.
The turnout, in part, may be attributed to the fact that six-term Mayor G. Frederick Robinson, who received 4,100 votes, ran unopposed, as did District 1 Council member James Marcos, who received 910 votes. “We’re balancing the budget, we’re providing core services,” said Robinson. “People are satisfied.”
What was the closest race wasn’t as close as some observers thought it might be. In District 2, two-term incumbent Council member won her third term by defeating challenger 932 votes to 587, or about 61 percent to 39 percent.
That was a similar percentage in which Polangin beat Mellits in 2009. Polangin had said before the election she thought that would occur. Upon hearing the news that she won, she thanked her supporters, the voters, her friends and family.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” she said in a room of cheering celebrants at the Bowie Golf Club. “I think it reflects the fact that people trust me and have faith in me. They know I am someone they can talk to as a friend, not just their representative.”
In the At-Large race, voters chose two council members from three candidates. Incumbent Council member , seeking his ninth term, was the top vote getter with 3,372 votes, or 45 percent. District 3 Council member won an At-Large seat with 3,124 votes, or about 42 percent. First time officer seeker James Bell received 995 votes, or 13 percent of the vote.
“These results show that voters trust this Council to see them through this time of national economic turmoil,” said Brady.
In other races:
- At-Large Council member , seeking the District 3 seat, defeated 78 percent to 21 percent, or 618 to 173 votes.
- In District 4, incumbent Council member defeated about 69 percent to 31 percent, or 742 votes to 321 votes.
In District 2, a flier was passed out to voters endorsing Robinson and Polangin for re-election.
The headline of the flier stated: “The Prince George’s County Firefighters and Paramedics Association endorses the re-election” of Robinson and Polangin.
Small type at the bottom of the flier states it was funded by the Prince George’s County Professional Firefighters’ PAC and not authorized by any candidate.
While the county’s firefighting force consists of volunteers and professionals, the problem with the flier, according to Mellits, is that it implies all firefighters—including volunteers—support Polangin.
Mellits, a volunteer firefighter, said the flier implies that his fellow volunteer firefighters are endorsing his opponent.
“It's dirty politics,” Mellits said late Tuesday afternoon while campaigning at the Kenhill Center. “It’s unethical to imply that the volunteers have endorsed Diane Polangin when that hasn’t happened. The mayor asked the professional firefighters to do this. He’s running unopposed. Why is he even getting involved in this council race?”
Robinson, also at the Kenhill Center, said the professional firefighter’s PAC was just doing what it has done a number of times, endorsing him. He said he wasn’t aware of how the flier was laid out. Robinson endorsed Polangin.
Polangin said the flier was produced without her involvement. She pointed out that the other side of the flier clearly indicated that the professional firefighters were involved.
Representatives of the professional firefighters PAC were not at the Kenhill Center for comment.
Meanwhile, in District 3, candidate Alegbeleye accused opponent Gardner of campaigning too close to a polling place.
“I’ve never seen what I see today. Rules were violated, I’ve had to call the board of elections many, many times to come out,” Alegbeleye said. “Signs were placed illegally, people were told to put them down, they were not put down.”
City Clerk Pam Fleming said that she and an election judge on site talked to Gardner about staying 100 feet away from the entrance to the polling location. She said that Gardner complied, and that no further action was necessary.
Gardner said the accusations by Alegbeleye stemmed from a simple misunderstanding and chalked them up to a child wearing a Gardner T-shirt near the polling place.
“So you have a 10-year-old that’s wearing my election T-shirt, so he’s running around not realizing the rules, so I have to continue to—as with any 10-year-old—repeat myself to him,” said Gardner. “So that’s basically it from my understanding of it."