Whatever your party affiliation or political leanings, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the candidates before the April 3 primary so you can feel confident you are casting an informed vote.
There are a variety of ways to do this, from reading newspaper stories about the candidates to attending candidate forums and meet-and-greet events.
Among the primaries of local interest this year are Maryland’s 6th Congressional District contest for the seat held by Republican Roscoe Bartlett, the U.S. Senate race for the seat currently held by Democrat Benjamin Cardin and the GOP presidential primary.
Closer to home, voters will choose who will advance to the general election in the contests for five seats on Hagerstown City Council and mayor.
The fields for the U.S. House and Senate races are crowded. There are five Democrats in that party’s 6th District primary, and eight Republicans in the GOP primary.
In the race for Maryland’s U.S. Senate seat up for grabs, there are 10 GOP candidates and nine candidates on the Democratic ballot.
In Hagerstown’s city council race, all five Democrats and five of six Republicans on the ballot will advance to the general election. An unaffiliated candidate whose name is not on the ballot also is expected to be a general election candidate.
For the mayoral post, two Republicans, including incumbent Robert E. Bruchey II, will vie for their party’s nomination to run in the Nov. 6 general election. One Democrat is on the ballot and will automatically move on to the general election.
There are eight Republicans on the GOP presidential primary ballot, although some have dropped out of the race. Only incumbent President Obama is listed on the Democratic ballot.
The race for Washington County Board of Education seats is not on the ballot because there are not enough candidates to require a primary.
In advance of the primary, The Herald-Mail and other organizations are taking steps to help voters get to know the candidates.
Later this month, The Herald-Mail will publish answers to three questions to which candidates for their parties’ nomination for Hagerstown’s City Council and mayor responded.
The Herald-Mail also will publish the responses to three questions posed to 6th District candidates.
In advance of that, we will continue to publish short stories about the candidates for those three offices, accompanied by biographical information for each.
Meanwhile, a number of organizations have scheduled forums for the candidates in various races. Here is a rundown of some of those:
- On Thursday, March 8, the Hagerstown Tea Party will hold a “meet the candidates” event for those running for Maryland’s U.S. Senate seat. The event, which organizers say will include a moderated question-and-answer format, will be at Next Dimensions at 132 Old National Pike from 7 to 9 p.m.
- On Thursday, March 22, the Hagerstown Tea Party will hold an event for candidates for Maryland’s 6th District seat in Congress, also at Next Dimensions from 7 to 9 p.m.
- The League of Women Voters of Washington County is sponsoring a candidates forum for Hagerstown council and mayoral candidates on Wednesday, March 14, at 7 p.m. in the council chambers.
- The Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce is holding public forums for candidates in the 6th District race. The forum for Republican candidates will be at Hager Hall Event and Convention Center on Dual Highway on Monday, March 19, from 7:30 to 9 a.m.
- A week later, on Monday, March 26, the chamber will hold a forum for Democrats running for the 6th District seat. That forum also will be at Hager Hall from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
- On Monday, March 26, and Tuesday, March 27, The Frederick News-Post will host forums, co-sponsored by The Herald-Mail, for 6th District candidates. Those forums will be at the Jack B. Kussmaul Theater at Frederick Community College. The forums will begin at 7 p.m. each night. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. The Democratic candidates will be featured March 26, and GOP candidates March 27.
In some cases, candidates have or will come to the area to meet the public.
So there are plenty of chances for voters to familiarize themselves with the candidates and to make choices.
Of course, none of that matters if you’re not registered to vote. If that’s the case, there’s still time to add your name to the rolls. Registration deadline in Washington County is Tuesday, March 13. That’s also the deadline for changing party affiliation or to request a polling place change.