Election Guide: Prince George's County 2012
A look at the people and questions on the ballot this election year in Prince George's County.
With Election Day drawing near, Patch is devoted to bringing you the information you’ll need when you head to the polls on Nov. 6.
The presidential race headlines this year’s election, but Maryland voters also face the most significant lineup of ballot questions in memory: Same-sex marriage, congressional redistricting, in-state tuition for undocumented students and an expansion of the state’s gambling industry.
Here's our guide on the candidates and issues we'll be covering. Bookmark this page for updates.
President Barack Obama: Maryland is a reliably Democratic state for presidential candidates. Obama held a fundraiser in Owings Mills on June 12 as well as campaigned in Baltimore with Gov. Martin O'Malley. He visited Towson University for a basketball game in November 2011.
GOP Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney: The former Massachusetts governor visited Maryland in March. Remember the Etch A Sketch comment that continues to be brought up in the waning days of the campaign? That came on the day Romney visited Arbutus. In explaining how the candidate will avoid being pushed too far to the right on the issues during the primaries to capture wide appeal for November's general election, spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom, in a CNN interview, likened Romney's positions to an Etch A Sketch. "You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again,” he said. Political opponents wasted no time in capitalizing on what was perceived as a misstep. Nonetheless, Romney won the Maryland primary in April.
Sen. Ben Cardin: The incumbent Democrat is seeking a second term in the U.S. Senate. He has shared many of his views in his blog on Patch.
Daniel Bongino: Cardin's Republican opponent is Daniel Bongino of Severna Park. He is a former Secret Service agent.
U.S. House of Representatives, 4th District:
Rep. Donna Edwards (D), Rep. Edwards took Maryland’s 4th Congressional seat via a special election in 2008. She serves on the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Science and Technology Committee. In this year’s campaign, she has won endorsements from The Gazette and The Washington Post.
Faith Loudon (R), Faith Loudon has been a community and political activist for 30 years. She was the Republican party’s Woman of the Year for Maryland in 2010. She lives in Severna Park.
U.S. House of Representatives, 5th District:
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D), Rep. Hoyer is serving his 14th term in Congress. In November 2006, Hoyer was elected by his colleagues in the Democratic Caucus to serve as House Majority Leader in the 110th Congress. His election as Majority Leader - which is the second-highest position in the House - makes him the highest-ranking Member of Congress from Maryland. Issues of concern include: education, energy, environment, equal pay, healthcare, jobs, economy, small business, transportation, and veterans.
Rep. Tony O'Donnell (R), In 1994, Rep. O’Donnell was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates representing District 29-C. Since that time O'Donnell has served in leadership positions including serving as the Maryland House Minority Leader and is a member of the House Environmental Matters Committee. Issues of concern include: reforming entitlements and the tax code; ending the fraud, waste and abuse; balancing the budget; American energy policy; regulatory reform; healthcare reform; immigration reform; traditional marriage; and education reform.
The Nov. 6 ballot features seven statewide questions and seven specific to Prince George’s County, plus the renewal of a state appeals court judge.
Question 4: The Maryland “Dream Act”
The Dream Act would allow illegal immigrant students to pay in-state tuition at institutions in the University System of Maryland if their parents filed to pay state taxes, if they graduated from a Maryland high school after attending for at least three years and if they graduated. Passed by the General Assembly in 2011, opponents launched a petition effort that blocked the legislation from taking effect and landed it on the 2012 ballot as a voter referendum.
In the summer, Dream Act supporters joined forces with same-sex marriage advocates to campaign for both issues. http://montgomeryvillage.patch.com/articles/familia-will-be-focus-of-push-for-dream-act-and-gay-marriage
A yes vote on Question 4 would allow qualifying undocumented students to pay in-state tuition.
Question 5: Congressional Redistricting
Gov. O’Malley’s plan for redrawing Maryland’s eight congressional districts according to the 2010 Census—passed during a General Assembly special session last fall—fanned partisan flames and upset minority advocates but survived a court challenge that claimed the map violated the federal Voting Rights Act.
In July, critics collected enough signatures to put the redistricting plan on the November ballot. County and state Democrats and the NAACP also have criticized the redistricting map, claiming that the redrawn districts dilute the voting power of racial and ethnic minority groups.
If voters reject the plan, the districts will have to be redrawn in time for the 2014 election. Democrats currently hold six of the state's eight congressional seats.
One of the most significant changes was the inclusion of large parts of northern and western Montgomery County in the 6th District. U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R) of Buckeystown has held the 6th District seat for 10 terms. The inclusion of Montgomery County, where Democrats enjoy a significant voter registration advantage, is seen as a challenge to Bartlett.
A yes vote on Question 5 would maintain the redrawn districts. A no vote would require state lawmakers to redraw the districts in time for the 2014 elections.
Question 6: The Civil Marriage Protection Act
On March 1, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill allowing same-sex couples to wed in Maryland. Despite celebrations from supporters, opponents in May of same-sex marriage turned in about twice the number of signatures they needed to send the law to referendum in November. Supporters of same-sex marriage such as Equality Maryland mobilized support, canvassing and holding public events. Groups that oppose same-sex marriage, including the Maryland Marriage Alliance, http://www.marylandmarriagealliance.org/ solicited support and raised funds.
A yes vote on Question 6 would allow same-sex marriages in Maryland starting in 2013.
Question 7: Gambling expansion
Legislation passed in the 2012 special session would allow table games such as poker and black jack at Maryland’s five casinos and allow a sixth casino. That sixth casino would be in Prince George’s County if a majority of Prince George’s voters approve Question 7. The measure would also increase the number of video lottery terminals from 15,000 to 16,500.
Democratic party leaders say the move will correct the mistake of limiting casinos to only slot machines when gambling was allowed in the 2008 referendum, while opponents argue that there is no guarantee that the $200 million expected to be generated will actually end up in the state education fund.
Want to know all the facts and who said what about Q7 before you vote? Check out our primer.
A yes vote for Question 7 would allow a sixth casino, the introduction of table games and the increase to video terminals.
*Questions 1 and 2: Require judges in the orphans’ courts for Prince George’s and Baltimore counties, respectively, to have practiced law in Maryland before taking the bench.
*Question 3: Remove elected officials from public office when they are found guilty or plead no contest to a criminal charge, rather than waiting until sentencing. The state Senate and House had passed the law unanimously.
*Question 8 asks whether to renew Stuart R. Berger for a 10-year on the state Court of Appeals, the state’s second-highest court.
Question A would enact the Census-based redrawing for the County Council districts via a public hearing and council resolution.
Question B would amend the county’s procedure for approving of multiyear contracts.
Questions C through G would allow the county to borrow money and issue bonds to pay for the design, construction, expansion, renovation or repair of county properties by as much as the following amounts:
- Libraries: $45.1 million
- County government buildings: $75.8 million
- Public Safety Facilities: $156.3 million
- Public Works and Transportation Facilities: $193.3 million
- Community College Facilities Bonds: $156 million