Good morning! It’s Columbia Election Day. Go forth and vote!
To continue with has become somewhat of a tradition at The Merriweather Post, here is this year’s completely-unscientific, totally-baseless, bound-to-be-wrong, based only-on gut-feeling set of predictions. This time from both Mike Golibersuch and myself, Jeremy Dommu. Both sets presented in order of confidence. First up, Mike.
First, I want to say that this was Jeremy’s idea. I have zero confidence in my ability to predict who will win these races. I’m going largely off vibes and I’m not a political scientist nor pundit. I really don’t think my predictions are much better than a coin flip. And I worry that these predictions will only damage TMP’s credibility… but Jeremy insisted this would be “fun” so I’ll end my curmudgeonly rant.
In order of confidence…
Amy Brooks. This prediction is based entirely on past performance – I think Amy did better than Karin in the primary election last year. Amy ran for state delegate and, despite losing, had a very impressive showing for a grassroots candidate. I suspect that a preponderance of the votes she received in her state delegate campaign came from Oakland Mills. Karin also lost her campaign for Howard County Democratic Central Committee last year; although it is an apples to oranges comparison, Karin seemed to do relatively worse than Amy. That being said, Karin is a lifelong resident of Columbia which will work in her favor.
Bill Santos. Bill is a Columbia (Owen Brown!) native and has been committed to serving the community in various roles for a long time. For years, he has hosted a weekly Sunday morning community gathering for anyone interested at the Wilde Lake Starbucks. Through these activities I think he’s made a lot of connections that will serve him well. I also think people will recognize how well he’s performed on the board this past year. Finally, if you meet Bill, he’s hard to dislike. He’s kind of a mix between a consummate professional and a Jimmy Buffet Parrothead – I like him even though I hate Jimmy Buffet. Francis (one of the two CA Board candidates I’ve never met in person) is also a Columbia native which will serve him well. I think he had some intelligent responses to TMP’s Q&A especially his commitment to data-driven decisions. But my sense is Bill’s greater name recognition will be hard to overcome.
Brian England. Both Skye and Brian are very likeable people. Brian demonstrated he can win an election last year and I’m largely making my predictions based off past performance (we can debate Hume’s “Problem of Induction” after the election). The potential redevelopment of the Hickory Ridge village center will drive a lot of the turn out and I think Brian has a more popular position on that issue. Brian and his business – BA Autocare – are also staples in Columbia (to the extent that we have staples). I don’t want to downplay Skye Anderson’s involvement and participation in the community – since I plugged Brian’s business, I’ll say that Skye is an excellent dog trainer. Also, I think Skye and her associated campaign have been successful. But my sense is Brian has more name recognition and the village center issue will be a powerful motivator.
Eric Greenberg. This one is tough because, as far as I know, neither candidate has been in a competitive election before. Dipper has deeper connections to the community and has more charisma which work in his favor. But I expect low turnout in River Hill and think that the support Eric has gotten support from Councilwoman Deb Jung which will motivate enough turnout in his favor.
Rick McCray???? I really have no idea on this one. Relievingly, this race seems less contentious than others… but maybe I’m ignorant of the contention. My sense is Rick (one of the two CA Board candidate I’ve never met in person) has more effort and visibility going into his campaign. On the other hand, I found Reg’s responses to TMP’s Q&A and my personal interaction with him compelling and perhaps other will as well.
I did predictions in 2021 for CA Board of Directors (I got 4/6 correct), neglected to last year, but now bringing it back for 2023! And if you want to get in on this fun, feel free to participate and share your own predictions in the comments. But please don’t let these predictions discourage you from voting. With only a several hundred votes expected to be cast in each village, these elections are super close and will be decided by only a handful of votes, so every vote matters, so please get out there today and vote.
So, without anything further, in order of confidence:
Bill Santos. This is a slam-dunk. Bill is well known with a long history of service in Wilde Lake and Howard County, and has proven to be a respected voice of reason during his first year on the CA Board. I suspect that voter turnout in all village elections this year will increase given the media attention over the past year and public backlash to the CA Board forcing out Lakey Boyd as president and CEO. Bill will benefit as he is the only incumbent boardmember up for re-election who vocally supported Lakey and challenged his fellow boardmembers who were responsible for her departure. Uy has the Bobo endorsement, and that will help him earn some votes, but it won’t be nearly enough.
Eric Greenberg. RH doesn’t make voting easy. In order to vote in advance, residents had to proactively request an absentee ballot during a 10 day window earlier this month. So, most voting will need to happen in person at the Claret House today between 9 AM to 3 PM. Accordingly, I suspect voter turnout will be suppressed and that RH will be the village with the lowest total vote count of all villages that have a CA board seat up for election. A low turnout will benefit Greenberg given his loyal supporters and political support from Deb Jung and Liz Bobo. Dipper has run a solid campaign and I’m sure will garner plenty of support from residents opposed to the way Greenberg chaired the CA board, but I don't think it will be enough. But prove me wrong, RH!
Amy Brooks. Amy Brooks is an awesome person and is very well-known in Oakland Mills. She is an OMHS teacher, former OMMS PTSA president, and co-founder of Oakland Mills online and outside all her community involvement, her name is well known since she just ran a campaign for state delegate last year. All of this should translate into plenty of votes. With that said, Ginny Thomas had a very strong showing in 2021 when she was last in a contested election, and Ginny (as well as other political activists who live outside Columbia) have been campaigning hard for Karin Emery, so I think this will be a closer election than some may think.
Skye Anderson. Skye is deliberative, process-oriented, and will approach every decision without preconceived positions and instead seek out the advice of qualified subject-matter experts and consider staff input and recommendations to make the best decisions for all Columbia residents... This is the exactly what the CA Board needs... Wait, sorry, this is a prediction article, not an endorsement article... 😀
Ok, I’m cautiously optimistic. As a candidate in Hickory Ridge myself (for village board) who has been campaigning together with Skye, our election prospects are linked. Skye and myself, along with other village board candidates Mariah Robertson, Jonathan McKinney, and Steve Hannan have all been campaigning together on a promise to focus on community building and ensuring board activities reflect the diverse needs and perspectives of the entirety of our community. I think we have all done an outstanding job casting our nets wide to our own networks of friends and neighbors with a message of “don’t just vote for me, vote for us”. And we have also focused on reaching out to parts of Hickory Ridge who haven’t traditionally participated in village elections and whose perspectives haven’t been considered by the elected representatives in the past. So, I’m guardedly optimistic.
But, I recognize that many engaged residents in Hickory Ridge have historically been motivated to vote because they don’t want to see apartments as part of a redeveloped village center, and despite the zoning board already denying that proposal (a decision that was just upheld in circuit court 2 days ago) and the fact that community association has no zoning authority over the village center in the first place, the other slate has made their opposition to the redevelopment the central message of their campaign (while misrepresenting our position of trying to finding a sensible viable solution to finally revitalize our village center), and that message of "no" will no-doubt resonate with some voters, so I suspect this will be a tight race.
Maybe this is just my perception as a village board candidate, but since all candidates in Hickory Ridge are slated (Skye with us 4 village board candidates and Brian England with the other 5 villages board candidates), the campaign messages for Skye and Brian about what they will bring to the CA Board have been blurred with campaign messages of us village board candidates, which may impact results either way. On their own, both Skye and Brian have a long history of community engagement and each have had success in past village elections, but I’m giving the edge to Skye (and us village board candidates campaigning with her)!
Reginald Avery. Like Mike, I really have no idea here. It's a coin flip that can either way. So, just to give an opposing prediction, I’m guessing Reg wins.