If politics were a horse race, the District 2 County Council race would have been decided by a photo finish.
Once the last ballots were counted, political newcomer Deni Taveras of Hyattsville emerged six votes ahead of legislative delegate Doyle Niemann (D—Dist. 47) of Mount Rainier.
Monday’s final tally of absentee ballots saw Taveras earn 2,423 votes and Niemann received 2,417. Results are unofficial until certified by the state, which is expected to happen July 9, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections calendar.
M.H. “Jim” Estepp, president of the Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable, said he couldn’t recall a race as close as this one.
“We had a relatively low turnout, and I think the voters should take a lesson from this — every vote counts,” Estepp said.
According to the Prince George’s County Board of Elections, 95,658 registered voters, approximately 18.8 percent, cast ballots in the June 24 election.
Niemann said after the final tally that he is likely to petition for a recount.
“Given how close it was, you almost have to ask for one,” Niemann said.
Absentee and provisional ballots were counted last week, giving Taveras a 10-vote lead.
Of the 18 remaining absentee ballots, 11 went to Niemann, seven to Taveras; enough to reduce Taveras’ lead, but not overcome it.
There is no Republican challenger for the District 2 seat, currently held by Will Campos of Hyattsville, who won an unopposed election to the House of Delegates in District 47B.
“It was a very hard election. I have the utmost respect for Del. Niemann and his work, but I also think we need a change, and the people have spoken,” Taveras said following the announcement of the results.
Taveras is a former Chief of Staff for State Senator Victor Ramirez (D-Dist. 47) of Mount Rainier.
Ramirez said Taveras will make an excellent champion for the residents of District 2.
“I think the citizens of District 2 have decided to go in a new direction, and I look forward to working with her in her new role,” Ramirez said.
Taveras said she went door-to-door in her district, speaking with residents.
“We hit over 17,000 homes, maybe more, between different teams,” Taveras said. “That public outreach I think was pivotal.”
Taveras said she spoke with people in their homes, asked what their concerns were and developed her platform from the responses.
“It helped me understand people’s concerns, and the first order of business is to address those concerns, and to forge and bridge communities and bring them together,” she said.
Niemann has served in the General Assembly since 2003. Prior to that, Niemann has been elected to the Board of Education (1996-2002), the Maryland State Democratic Committee (1986-1990) and the Mount Rainier City Council (1983-1987).
Although Niemann will be out of public office in a few months, he said he will continue in his other role as an assistant state’s attorney for Prince George’s County.
“I’m a firm believer that when one door closes another opens up, so I’m confident I’ll have things to do,” Niemann said.