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Glitch in MoCo District 4 Election Planning

Montgomery County election officials were reprogramming voting machines yesterday after failing to include the party affiliation of candidates on the ballot in Tuesday's special election in County Council District 4.

Two candidates - Republican Mark D. Fennel, a marketing analyst, and Democrat Don Praisner, a retired CIA analyst - are competing to fill the seat left open by the death of Praisner's wife, Marilyn, who represented the eastern county for 17 years.

Board of Elections director Margaret Jurgensen said officials learned of the mistake yesterday and had decided to manually type in the candidates' party affiliations on about 5,000 provisional ballots.

The board also is sending letters to the district's roughly 100,000 registered voters to alert them to the error on their sample ballots and remind them of the May 13 election.

Jurgensen said there could be a silver lining in the mistake. "There doesn't seem to be a lot of attention to this election," she said. "Anything we do will probably help improve turnout."

By Anne Bartlett  |  May 9, 2008; 7:14 AM ET
Categories:  Ann Marimow  
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Hmmm...removing any indication of Mark Fennel's (GOP - REPUBLICAN) party affiliation might actually give him a good chance. Very interesting. Praisner should enjoy a 5 to 1 Dem to Repub ratio.

For Fennel to overcome that and gain the Republicans a seat on the council would be impressive, but I think most voters know Fennel is a Repub by now. I wonder, that unless Fennel is a hardcore Republican - why would he not run as a Dem or an independent?

Ficker, you will Fennel a Bush Republican, a Reagan Republican, a Paul Republican (becoming a popular flavor)? Many voters are more familar with Praisner than Fennel...

Why does Fennel stay with the GOP (with the odds being what they are)? Thx.

Posted by: Donny | May 9, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

There will be two (2) --- TWO --- people on the entire ballot. Anyone doesn't already which party each of the TWO people on the ballot are affiliated with obviously has so little knowledge about the council that they should not even be voting.

Posted by: MF | May 9, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Fennel's candidacy seems to exist for the sole purpose of stirring up anti-tax sentiment to market Robin Ficker's ballot referendum. It's the only issue that Fennel has talked about and he obviously isn't making the effort to run a serious or well rounded campaign on the full spectrum of issues.

I seriously doubt that he really expects to win this election. If he somehow does, he will be a disaster for D4 as he learns how small the property tax issue really is in the big Council picture while our piece of the resource pie gets devoured by the Potomac and upcounty interests.

Posted by: Fennel is a Ficker Republican | May 9, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

This is Mark D. Fennel, running for County Council. Although property tax relief is my signature issue, whether it's bringing the Amish Market back to Burtonsville, preserving Ashton, preserving a meadow in 4-Corners, or dealing with the negative impact of the ICC slicing through our district, I pledge to fight tooth-and-nail for district 4 interests.

My opponent, Don Praisner, refused to debate me on Channel 21 a few days ago. In addition, recently was not present at the ICC protest in Derwood, was not present at a forum on Gangs and Crime with Montgomery County Chief of Police Manger & Councilman Andrews at Wheaton Library, and was not present at the Wheaton Sector Plan review at the Gilchrest Center. I was present at all these functions advocating as a candidate for district 4 interestes.

The bottom line is that the ballot correction is a government waste issue, and I am a Director at Citizens Against Government Waste which stopped the infamous "bridge to nowhere." An e-mail went out announcing the ballot inspection period for both me & Mr. Praisner. I inspected & did not express a problem with the ballot. Yesterday, elections told me a "Democrat" expressed a concern that morning. If Mr. Praisner had objections, why didn't he bring them up at the time. Because of his apparent lack of oversight, the county is spending thousands of dollars on an unnecessary mailing -- at a time of a $300 million deficit and the proposed biggest property tax increase in 20 years. Mr. Praisner has publicly stated he wants the "flexibility" to surpass the Charter limit on property tax collection, a limit which was put in place to protect families from unfair taxation. This same kind of lack of oversight caused the Clarksburg debacle which cost taxpayers millions of dollars to correct, and contributed to a lack of affordable housing. In 2006, a high ranking housing official testified to the Council that there was a "climate of complacency." Is Mr. Prasiner going to root out government waste to balance the budget, as I will, or cause it? The point I'm trying to make here, is that as a member of the Management & Fiscal Policy Committee (which the winner is slated to serve on), I will put in the thousands of hours necessary to provide effective oversight of the budget. Don Praisner could not even provide effective oversight of a simple routine inspection of a ballot, and because of this, taxpayers are stuck with another bill.


Mark D. Fennel

Posted by: Mark D. Fennel | May 9, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

It's also important to mention, that is 100,000 plus piece mailing, that Mr. Praisner apparently requested, is a supplemental mailing, not required by law. Only the ballot correction is required by law. However, has political implications and is paid for at taxpayers expense. Hmmmmmmm.


Mark D. Fennel

Posted by: Mark D. Fennel | May 9, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

The screwed-up ballots were probably just a clerical error, albeit a major and obvious one. While by now anyone who is planning to go out and vote in the general election knows who they will vote for, party affiliation is ALWAYS indicated on ballots, and the error must be corrected lest somebody (ANYBODY!) have a reason to contest or cry about the election results, whatever they turn out to be.

Yes, the error should have been caught in proofreading prior to release and it will be very costly to correct. That being said, it would be far more expensive to deal with and resolve a District 4 "Hanging Chad" issue.

As a District 4 resident, I'm glad that we probably won't have to go through that now. Whoever was responsible for this problem probably has union protection and can't be fired ..... now THERE's some waste for you.

Posted by: Ballots have to be done right | May 9, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

All the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty Together Again. How is Mr. Praisner going to study complicated rezoning matters if he can't even check a ballot? He has not campaigned at all since the Primary. He doesn't have fire in the belly for this seat. Because his campaign is in deeptrouble and he is not inspiring anyone to vote, Leggett, who wants a "yes" man on the council, is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax money on 100,000 piece mailings and television ads that are not required, to try and turn out party line voters.

But here there is a Teddy Roosevelt-like alternative: Mark Fennel for County Council and Property Tax Relief!

Query: Why has the Post, about 6 times now, mentioned that Mark Fennel is a "marketing analyst," without mentioning that he works for Citizens Against Government Waste? The paper says Praisner is a "retired CIA analyst." Why mention CIA if you are not going to mention Citizens Against Government Waste?

Posted by: Robin Ficker Broker Robin Realty | May 9, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Folks, please understand that Maryland law requires party affiliation on the ballot. Whether it should is another question. But the ballots had to be corrected to include party affiliation.


Mr. Leggett is improperly spending taxpayers' money on a Get-out-the-vote effort which is masquerading as a correct the sample ballot effort. THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT TO SEND OUT 100,000 LETTERS once the ballot has been corrected. THERE IS NO LEGAL REQUIREMENT TO CORRECT MAILED SAMPLE BALLOTS AT ALL.

Posted by: Robin Ficker Broker Robin Realty | May 9, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that every time I read a Ficker posting I feel like he's trying to sell me a rusty Pinto with a backyard paint job and tell me it's the solution to all of my problems?

Posted by: The Ficker Factor | May 9, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Praisner's strategy from the start of this campaign has been to try and make this a race between two people who are not running at all: Marilyn Praisner and Robin

When you look at who is actually running: Don Praisner and Mark Fennel, the choice is clear.

Mark Fennel was out in the rain this morning from 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m greeting voters at the intersection of Randolph Road and New Hampshire Ave. He has attended every meeting of two or more District 4 citizens since the special election was announced. He ran for the seat in 2006 and ran a friendly spirited low budget campaign, getting a lot more than the 15% of the vote that Don Praisner has dishonestly said in his campaign brochures that Mark got. Mark Fennel has not taken developer money. Don Praisner said he would not take developer money and then did take same.

Posted by: Praisner's strategy | May 9, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

When does Mark Fennel have any time left for sleuthing government waste that's EVERYWHERE? Must not be that important since Citizens Against Government Waste has not succeeded in stopping government waste, and yet somebody is still paying Fennel.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 9, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the aforegoing poster that Montgomery County has waste everywhere. What about Leggett's $65,000 bathroom? Mark Fennel is a skinflint with other people's money, but quite magnanimous on social issues. Have you met his beautiful, smart, bi-lingual Latino wife?

Posted by: Montgomery County has waste everywhere! | May 9, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

The multiple Ficker personalities are out in force today. Wow. My personal favorite is Roberto Ficker, who apparently has the hots for Mark Fennel's wife. Or else he's trying to woo the Nancy Navarro vote. With any of the Fickers, it's really hard to tell.

And in response to Ficker personality "Praisner's strategy," I really, really wouldn't spend time talking about Fennel's 2006 performance. You're right, it wasn't 15%. It was the equally lame 25%.

Scroll down and gaze upon the glory that is Mark Fennel. Mr. 25%. There's a slogan for you, Robin(s).

Posted by: lefty | May 9, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Good point, as many problems as this country has seen with recent elections, GET THE BALLOTS CORRECT. Done.

All that other chatter....just seems to make this an entertaining election...otherwise, it would be pretty boring.

Thanks for the show!

Posted by: Donny | May 9, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

"Have you met his beautiful, smart, bi-lingual Latino wife?"

This quote is the same tactic that Navarro used. Somebody's ethnicity or gender have nothing to do with their ability to perform a Council job. Their spouse's gender or ethnicity matter even less. How patronizing!

Posted by: Fennel's people playing the race card | May 9, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Double standard? Praisner's wife has been the centerpiece of his campaign. If Fennel's beautiful, smart, bi-lingual Latino wife is mentioned it's patronizing? As far as accepting minorities in his life, Fennel is a 10 out of 10. Praisner is between a 0 and a 1 out of 10.

Posted by: Praisner's wife, not Fennel's | May 9, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Once again, ethnicity and race, especially of a spouse, even more especially of a spouse who is not and has not been involved in elected office, are irrelevant. Yet somehow the "Latino" wife and her physical attributes, are repeatedly brought up by the Fennel people. Totally irrelevant and patronizing.

Posted by: No double standard. | May 9, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Fennel got 25+% which isn't bad against somebody who served 4 4 year terms on the council and 2 4 year terms on the schoolboard. Fennel took no special interest money at all and ran a low budget campaign. And he would expect the county government to be thrifty too.

If Fennel is such a weak candidate, why has the Praisner campaign been stealing his Fennel for County Council and Property Tax Relief on May 13 signs from the yards of homeowners instead of putting their own?

Posted by: No legacy, but a Leggett | May 9, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

How many times is the Montgomery County Bd of Elections going to screw up before they put in new management? Just ridiculious.

Posted by: BOE Screwup again? | May 9, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Marilyn Praisner was in office for 25 years. That legacy yielded 3,300 votes out of 50,000. Leggett talked Don Praisner into running so he would have a "yes," vote. Council District 4 needs an independent, hard working councilman. All Fennel's friends call him hardworking. None of Praisner's do.

Posted by: Leggett, not a legacy | May 9, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

We have never seen Don Praisner in the company of person of color except Ike Leggett who wants his vote.

Posted by: 1 minority | May 9, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Fennel. I am a Dem, but thanks for addressing the blog (if thats really you). Barfing and blather aside, I have two questions for you.

(1) Why are you a member of the Republican party? Why not Dem or Independent?

(2) Do you think George W. Bush is a good president? Please defend your position.

FWIW- Thanks.

Posted by: Donny | May 9, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

That was Mark Donny. When was the last time you saw Don Praisner blog about anything or indeed even read a statement at a forum that he himself had writen?

Mark Fennel is at the International Festival at Wheaton High School, one our 45 polling places tonight. Tomorrow we are going to be going all around the district. He got up at 5 a.m. today. Don't count on him getting to blog you an answer tonight or tomorrow.
With all due respect, I don't think that George Bush is an issue in a race for Montgomery County Council. I doubt that Mark has contributed to a Bush campaign. He doesn't have much extra spending money. He lives in an apartment. I know that Citizens Against Government Waste has been highly critical of Bush spending and earmarks.

Posted by: Robin Ficker, Broker Robin Realty | May 9, 2008 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Is there one person in Montgomery County who considers 76 year old Don Praisner hardworking?

Posted by: Is 76 year old Don Praisner hardworking? | May 10, 2008 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Ficker, with all due respect, I know Fennel is you main man, and you are right to try to boost him here. However, I'd like to hear from Fennel...if he wants to win over Dems...he should answer those may help him. It may be his only chance.

Bush/Cheney may not be relevant to GOPer's, but its an important question to Dems like me. I'm sure you must understand that.

Mr. Fennel? Win our hearts and minds? Why are you GOP?

Posted by: Donny | May 10, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

In case anyone is interested in the truth re. Mr. Praisner's relationships with people of color, he is officially endorsed by Roscoe Nix. He is supported by Odessa Shannon and Ruby Rubens and has many supporters from all ethic races.

Posted by: Praisner and People of Color | May 11, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

The Washington Post which endorses almost every Democrat for local office has refused to endorse Don Praisner.

Posted by: No Post endorsement for Praisner | May 12, 2008 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Did they endorse the Republican? To be fair, the Post sometimes endorses GOP Republicans, but they did NOT endorse the Republican either.

Posted by: Donny | May 13, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

From the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission:

"FICKER, Robin K.A.. - Suspended indefinitely for lack of competence, lack of diligence, failure to communicate, conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice and failure to place an unearned fee in a trust account."

Posted by: Don't elect a guy loyal to an incompetent suspended lawyer | May 13, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

When the Board of Elections sends out a get-out-the-vote-letter for Don Praisner at taxpayer expense, that Board is corrupt.

Posted by: Board of Elections is crooked | May 13, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Donny the ratio of Post endorsements in Montgomery County of Democrats to Republicans is at least 20-1. When Don Praisner does not get endorsed by the Post, there is something seriously wrong with him.

Posted by: 20-1 Donny | May 13, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

True, the Post has demonstrated extraordinarily good judgement in endorsing many Dems, but as you cite above, they HAVE endorsed Repubs as well. Lack of a formal endorsement by a major Newspaper of a county council member in a special election means just about nothing, though.

If you have any real issues against Praisner, you should cite them...if they are reasonable, we will read it.

Posted by: Donny | May 13, 2008 9:02 PM | Report abuse

I voted today...good luck to both candidates!

Posted by: Donny | May 13, 2008 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Well, it's as good as in the books now and we the people have chosen Mr. Praisner by a margin of 2 to 1. Let's all look forward to the continuation of Mrs. Praisner's great vision for District 4.

We can all rest easy now knowing that an experienced and knowledgeable councilmember will be carrying the flag for us in Rockville!

Posted by: The people have spoken! | May 13, 2008 11:18 PM | Report abuse

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