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This story was updated at 10:30 a.m. July 28, 2022, to include comments from Laurie-Anne Sayles.

As election workers and canvassers continue to count mail-in and provisional ballots this week, most political observers are keeping an eye on one close race: the Democratic primary for county executive in which challenger David Blair holds a slim lead over incumbent Marc Elrich.

But some of the Democratic primaries for the County Council — for four at-large and seven district seats — are also drawing interest as the counting continues. The Washington Post has projected that County Council Member Sidney Katz will be re-elected in District 3, which covers Gaithersburg and Rockville. In District 6 — centered around Wheaton and Glenmont — top contender Maricé Morales conceded to Natali Fani-Gonzalez, a former Planning Board member who has won nearly 55% of the vote so far.

Candidates in several other County Council races are waiting for the final count. Republicans who ran in County Council races are all unopposed and will face Democrats in November, in a county where Democrats heavily outnumber Republicans.

If current results hold, the makeup of the 11-member council will include six women — a shift from the current council, where County Council Member Nancy Navarro is the only one.

Marilyn Balcombe was leading the District 2 County Council race (which covers Germantown, Clarksburg, and northwestern parts of the county) by 2,275 votes over second-place candidate Williams Roberts as of Tuesday evening, according to results posted by the State Board of Elections. Balcombe told Bethesda Beat on Wednesday that she is waiting until all of the votes are tallied before declaring victory. 

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“I really look forward to the count being finished. I don’t want to be presumptuous. The numbers look good, but it’s really important people know their vote is counted,” she said. 

Balcombe said she plans to leave her job as president/CEO with the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce if elected to the council. 

Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart continues to lead the District 4 council race (which covers North Bethesda, Kensington, Silver Spring and Takoma Park), with 1,876 votes separating her from Amy Ginsburg, who was in second place as of Tuesday night. Stewart told Bethesda Beat on Wednesday that she also is waiting until learning the final vote count before calling the race. 

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“Each day that the count comes in looks good for us, and we’re waiting to kind of see. We’d like to wait until the votes are counted,” she said. 

Stewart said that her three other opponents — Al Carr, John Zittrauer and Troy Murtha —have contacted her to offer their congratulations. She said the conversations were “really nice.” 

“We’ve had a very nice campaign season. I didn’t know John Zittrauer very well before but I’ve very much enjoyed getting to know him. He and I have actually carpooled a couple of times [to events],” she said. 

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Some trailing candidates are conceding that it will be difficult to make up ground.

One is Jacqueline Manger, currently in second place in District 7 — a district spanning from Olney to Damascus, and from Laytonsville to Montgomery Village.

Manger has 2,813 votes, while Dawn Luedtke, the frontrunner, has 4,180 votes. Manger said she was more optimistic after seeing the results of the first two days of mail-in ballot counting but she acknowledges that it’s unlikely that she can make up the current difference in the number of votes separating her from Luedtke.

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“Mathematically, I could win this thing, [but] realistically, at this point, I’m thinking not … . I think I’m going to remain in second, my hope is it will be a closer second,” Manger said.

While Luedtke said she is waiting to declare victory, she is feeling good about her chances. She added that Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Takoma Park) has offered his congratulations.

Luedtke noted that her lead has continued to widen with the counting of mail-in ballots.

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“From a statistical standpoint, I feel very comfortable,” Luedtke said. 

In the District 5 race — which includes eastern parts of the county, ranging from Four Corners and White Oak to Burtonsville, and includes Colesville and Leisure World — Kristin Mink leads with 6,455 votes. Fatmata Barrie is in second with 3,741 votes.

Mink said she feels pretty confident, given her lead and the fact that it has widened according to the updated results posted by the State Board of Elections.

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She said she’s thankful for District 5 voters who have chosen her and her platform, and looks forward to fighting for issues on their behalf.

“We have no reason to believe that uncounted mail-in ballots … would be substantially different than the mail-in ballots that have come in,” Mink said. 

Barrie said she was waiting for the county’s Board of Elections and election workers to finish canvassing. 

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“I am just waiting for them to tally all of the votes, and call it,” Barrie said. 

In the at-large race, County Council Vice President Evan Glass, who leads all candidates with 66,817 votes, declared victory in his re-election bid last week. Council Member Will Jawando and Council President Gabe Albornoz have also said they’re confident in their re-election chances in the Democratic primary for four at-large seats. They are in second and third places respectively. 

Laurie-Anne Sayles, with 47,220 votes, holds the fourth position that would advance to the general election in November. She said that she was optimistic about her chances, but was waiting for every vote to be counted.

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“I am patiently awaiting the final count,” Sayles said. “I would love for it to come sooner, but I know we can’t rush this important work and service.”

Scott Goldberg, who is in fifth place (40,269 votes), has acknowledged it is unlikely he will make up that ground. County Council Member Tom Hucker, who is in sixth place (38,137 votes), conceded last week.

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

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