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.