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Baltimore County Council seats up for grabs in 2022

Marks at podium.JPG
Baltimore County Councilman David Marks. Credit: John Lee

Now that they have redrawn their districts, six of seven members of the Baltimore County Council are gearing up to run for reelection.

Republican David Marks is the latest councilman to say he will run again this coming year.

Marks said this week he was waiting to see how the 5th district, which he represents, was going to be redrawn. The county council passed its redistricting map earlier this month and it was good news for the three-term Republican. He lost Democratic-leaning Towson and picked up more conservative areas on the county’s east side.

“About 44% of the district is brand new,” Marks said. “So, I think it’s an exciting opportunity to make some changes in Middle River, Chase and White Marsh areas.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland and the Baltimore County Branch of the NAACP have filed suit to block the new council map. Their main complaint is that while the county is about 30% Black, African Americans make up a majority of the voters in only one of the county’s seven council districts.

So far, no one has filed to challenge any of the six incumbents. The filing deadline is February 22.

Community College of Baltimore County political science professor John Dedie said some of those incumbents may be planning four more years on the council to position themselves to run for county executive in 2026. Incumbent executive Johnny Olszewski is running for reelection. If he wins and serves a second term, Olszewski will be term-limited in 2026.

“No one’s going to beat Johnny Olszewski running for reelection,” Dedie said. “Sometimes it’s safer to park your car on the side of the road and just wait out the rainstorm. Then when it stops raining, you proceed.”

Democratic incumbents Julian Jones and Izzy Patoka have both expressed interest in running for county executive one day. Both are seeking reelection to the council.

Democratic incumbent Cathy Bevins is in a political and legal tangle over whether she violated the county charter by briefly moving out of the sixth district, which she represents. Bevins said that was a mistake. She plans to run for a fourth term and said she is actively raising money for her campaign.

Redistricting made the sixth district more favorable for Bevins, or any Democratic candidate. The sixth picked up Democratic voters in Towson and lost conservatives in the Middle River area.

Observers say the map passed earlier this month makes Democratic districts safer for Democrats, and Republican districts more secure for GOP candidates.

“It looks like an incumbent protection plan,” said former Maryland Secretary of State and University of Baltimore government professor John Willis.

Democrats currently hold four seats, Republicans the other three.

Republican Councilman Todd Crandell has filed for reelection to represent the seventh district, which includes Essex and Dundalk. Fellow Republican Wade Kach said recently he also plans to run again to represent the third district, which includes the rural north county.

The only council member who said he is not running is Democrat Tom Quirk, who represents the first district, which includes Catonsville and Arbutus. Two Democrats, Del. Pat Young and businessman Paul Dongarra are vying for the party’s nomination to replace Quirk.

Councilman Marks said he has a good track record to run on as he reaches out to people who might not know him in his newly configured district.

“I’ve advanced 11 new parks in my district,” Marks said. “I resurfaced about seven miles of Joppa Road and other corridors and helped to advance three new schools. I think that’s an excellent record and I’m looking forward to the challenges that I can face in the new east side fifth district.”