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Don Praisner, seen at the IHOP in Calverton, won the Democratic nomination for the County Council seat opened by his wife Marilyn's death two months ago.
With a turnout of just over eleven percent, District 4 voters nominated Democrat Don Praisner and Republican Mark D. Fennel to run in the special election for the open County Council seat May 13. Praisner, widower of recently passed Councilmember Marilyn Praisner, garnered 3288 votes, according to the County Board of Elections. School Board President Nancy Navarro was not far behind with 2940 votes, while advocate Steve Kanstoroom and consultant Pat Ryan trailed them both.
With MoCo political gadfly Robin Ficker as campaign manager, Fennel's aggressive sign-deployment and promises to lower property taxes earned him the favor of Republican voters. The Aspen Hill resident beat Calverton real estate broker John McKinnis, with 898 votes to McKinnis's 771. Meanwhile, Spencerville's Robert Patton won 114 votes, while IT specialist Thomas Hardman, also of Aspen Hill, earned 96 votes.
As Marilyn's legacy hung over their heads, front-runners Praisner and Navarro waged an often-bitter campaign, made worse by allegations that School Superintendent Jerry Weast privately met with prominent unions to endorse Navarro, crippling her credibility. Adam Pagnucco from Maryland Politics Watch pointed out yesterday that a low turnout more or less ensured Praisner's victory, despite Navarro's larger campaign budget. District 4's two gigantic retirement communities - Leisure World in Aspen Hill and Riderwood Village in Calverton - guaranteed the 75-year-old Don a massive base of senior citizens, known to be the most hardcore of voters.
On top of that, he enjoyed strong name recognition from his wife, who sat on the Council for seventeen years and had been active in the Calverton community since moving there four decades ago. Praisner also had the support of County Executive Ike Leggett and four councilmembers eager to have a fifth vote for slower growth when the Council tackles its Annual Growth Policy this summer.