• Spartan Considerations

Autopsy of an Own Goal

Voting has concluded in the 2021 Columbia Association Board/village community association races. Only two CA Board races are yet to be determined. The Long Reach tally is expected to be released to the public today. How long does it take to count votes, Oakland Mills? Is this community association using the Iowa caucuses software? Is the fix already in?


Contested CA Board races in three villages witnessed very close outcomes:


· A flip of 5 votes, out of 431 residential votes cast, from Tina Horn to Bill Santos would have changed the victor of the Wilde Lake CA Board election.


· In Dorsey’s Search, a flip of 7 votes, out of 191, would have led to the election of Marlon Brown over the incumbent, Richard Boulton.


· In King’s Contrivance, a flip of 17 votes, out of 339, would have meant the defeat of Shari Zaret by Broderick Young.


Only one of the aforementioned winning candidates, Tina Horn, was endorsed by the Rouse Project. It important to note, however, that 265 votes out of 431 (61.5%) cast in the Wilde Lake CA Board race went to candidates not supported by the Rouse Project. I have a feeling that there is significant overlap between the Santos and Campbell voters, so I anticipate had it been a one-on-one race, Horn might have had a much tougher route to 50%+1. Still, interesting that Liz Bobo’s candidate finished a relatively distant third in this race. And that fact alone deserves at least the raising of one eyebrow.


But let’s focus on the Rouse Project.


The unfortunate thing about the Rouse Project is that if (most) of the individuals who belong to the Rouse Project Steering Committee endorsed candidates, independently of the Rouse Project, their candidates would have fared better. At least that is my belief. Here is why:


You can’t just create an organization full of local heavy-hitters with the intention that it would be involved in civic affairs and be opaque about its purpose and funding sources. This is Politics 101. In doing so, they gift-wrapped their opponents a ready-made issue.


Let us do a simple thought experiment, had all of the Rouse Project-backed candidates already been on the CA board, and a shiny new and apparently well-funded organization emerged on the scene supporting their opponents, the Rouse Project folks would be fracking livid. You and I know there would have been many, many calls for Transparency, Transparency surtout!


The African American Coalition of Howard County, an established and trusted organization, was much better positioned to be a major player in this election cycle. Meanwhile, the Rouse Project was busy unintentionally sending up red flags, talking about who their “enemies” were and touting a coalition including “businesses” (small businesses? developers?) There is a huge difference in how they are perceived, and the Rouse Project was tight-lipped on such matters.


So instead of running on a positive change platform, the Rouse Project candidates found themselves in an oddly defensive posture, having to answer questions about their supporters. Now, I know some people have claimed that these elections centered around the wrong, or trivial questions, but remember (again, Politics 101), the voters get to decide what is important. We might not like the questions, but campaigns and affiliated organizations need to come up with answers for those questions. Yes, it makes life harder. Oh well. No one ever said campaigning, even for local positions, would be easy. But did you really need to be told that?


If nothing else, we saw higher turnout for village elections, which I maintain was a good thing. In the two outstanding CA Board races, I hope Rashida George pulls out a W in Oakland Mills. I don’t have an opinion on the Janet Evans – Adam Herson match-up in Long Reach.


Is there more to say on this? Yes. But I will wait for the final results to come in…and discuss them on Forward Maryland.


In solidarity.

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