After 100 Votes, Council Seat Remains Vacant

The six remaining members are split about who should join them on the council.

The Anne Arundel County Council is deadlocked on a decision to fill the vacant District 1 seat after 100 rounds of voting that ended just before midnight Thursday.

Ten candidates made presentations to the council, but the list was narrowed to two—Peter Smith and Mike Wagner—by the time voting became heated.

Smith is a Marine Corps Reserve lieutenant working for the NSA. Wagner is a former senator and delegate from Glen Burnie who has had a business presence in the region for decades.

The council must select a replacement to fill the District 1 seat, formerly held by Daryl Jones, of Severn. Jones began serving his sentence at a federal prison in South Carolina on Jan. 23. The council vacated his seat last month, and has until Wednesday to find a replacement.

But after nearly four hours of discussion, interviews and a lengthy voting process, the council members ended the night with no decision.

The first round of voting included three candidates, Smith, Wagner and Richard Forgo. But by the second round, Forgo was dropped and only two remained for the final 99 votes.

A candidate needs a simple majority—four votes—to earn the seat. The first vote was 3-2-1, for Smith, Wagner and Forgo, respectively. For the remainder of the evening, the council was tied 3-3 between Smith and Wagner. 

Voting during those 99 sessions went like this:

Councilman Jamie Benoit: Smith

Councilman Dick Ladd: Wagner

Councilman Chris Trumbauer: Smith

Councilman Jerry Walker: Smith

Councilman John Grasso: Wagner

Councilman Derek Fink: Wagner

Each vote was like a game of chicken, as councilmen waited for someone to change his vote, but no one did. After 18 votes, it became the longest-running tie ballot in County Council history. 

After the first few tie votes, Grasso spoke up.

“All right, ladies. We’re going to be here all night,” Grasso said. “What’s the deal here?”

Council members offered their take on their chosen candidate. Wagner’s supporters spoke of his experience in running businesses and managing a budget. Smith’s supporters valued his impressive resume, military career and vision for the future of the county.

Benoit said he thought Smith was a vision of what he wanted to see in Anne Arundel County’s future.

“In as much as experience matters, I'm looking for someone who will help … create a tomorrow kind of place. Peter Smith, I think, best embodies the future in this county,” Benoit said.

Grasso continually intervened during these deadlocks to get the council to say a little more, but his tone seemed to irk some council members.

Trumbauer finally put his foot down.

“I’m not going to sit up here and let you bully people around anymore,” Trumbauer said to applause from the audience.

Grasso replied that while some other council members had jobs to wake up for the next day, he and Ladd didn’t have to get up tomorrow.

“Dick and I can stay here all night,” he said.

More than 80 rounds later, the council adjourned the meeting, promising to meet back to conclude the voting process at 2 p.m. Tuesday, about five hours before their next scheduled meeting.

Judith Moylan-Forman February 17, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Ethnic Slurs....the belittlement of fellow councilmen....English only......what has happened to this county and specifically its leaders- or more to the point- the lack of leadership. All too frequently and recently, we are reminded that the only kind of "leadership" these men can dislay is that they continually lead us down the road of small minded bigotry. This is what lack of experience gets us. And we want businesses to move in here with this kind of County Council conduct? In a Nov. 2011 editorial in the Sun Paper, Mr. Ladd was praised as a "conscientious consensus-builder" by his colleagues? Really? Do you still have that consensus-builder admiration? What does Del. Cathy Vitale think of this kind of behavior? I'd like to know. This is not only an embarrassment but a disgrace.
D. Frank Smith February 17, 2012 at 05:48 PM
The full story is here: http://patch.com/A-qWg8
Phillip February 17, 2012 at 09:41 PM
NONE of these people should be in elected office. At this point we should RECALL all of the current elected officials in the county office if they want to play this game.
James Johnson February 18, 2012 at 07:37 PM
This combined with the English language bill illustrate that this council is hostile to diversity and wants to return to the good ol boys network. We need to send them a message. These guys do not represent an increasingly diverse and modern county.
Amy Leahy February 19, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Interesting that the council members wanting Wagner are supporting the 'old guard' - someone who has a long history of public service and is a popular restaurant business owner in Glen Burnie. Both Grasso and Fink are from that area and are both also involved in the restaurant business. Seems to me they should take a long hard look at who they are really serving by wanting Wagner in that seat….themselves or the constituents in District 1?


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