- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
District 2 Charles County commissioner candidate Melanie B. Holland, who lost in a second-place effort in the Democratic primary June 24, has announced she is still a candidate for the office as a write-in.
“It’s obvious to me that the voters still want change,” she said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “Many voters reached out to me. ... I was urged overwhelmingly to keep up my grass-roots effort.”
Holland cited her opinion that the other candidates in the race didn’t address the issues she feels are important to Charles residents and also said she is concerned by what she called a “voter suppression effort” Thursday before the primary.
She said a rally at the county board of elections in La Plata on June 19 that supporters of her opponent, incumbent District 2 Commissioner Debra M. Davis (D), helped organize, was billed as a blow against what they said were efforts to intimidate African-American voters with calls and emails from schools Superintendent Kimberly A. Hill concerning the school budget but instead convinced some voters that there was the possibility of trouble at the polls.
Debra Davis did not return a call seeking comment.
Robert J. Taylor, who was defeated in the Democratic primary in his bid for the District 3 commissioner seat, said commissioners’ Vice President Reuben B. Collins II’s campaign organized the rally to highlight what some people thought was a voter suppression effort coming from Charles County Public Schools after the robocalls and emails blasting incumbents’ votes on the budget and after an incident reported by local activist Cornell Posey’s son.
Taylor said Posey’s son, whom he didn’t name, is a school system employee, who said he was in a meeting at his work when his supervisor told the employees not to vote for Davis, Collins (D) or incumbent Commissioner Bobby Rucci (D). “That, to some people, that is more voter suppression than a rally,” Taylor said.
Holland also said there was a word-of-mouth campaign bolstered by fliers listing recommended candidates distributed at park-and-ride lots that told voters Davis and her political allies were the only African-American candidates in the commissioner races. Holland is African-American.
“That’s not the only reason I’m running,” Holland said of the rally fracas. “Not by a long shot. But as an African-American, I was shocked at the concerted effort” to scare people into not voting.
Taylor said he did not know of any attempt to deceive voters with fliers by Davis supporters or anyone else.
Holland also said the District 2 field was “overcrowded,” including with two candidates she called “ghosts” who didn’t participate in public forums or the Maryland Independent endorsement process. She wouldn’t name names, but candidates Leya “Blondie” Davis and Mike Cassidy did not participate in forums or endorsement interviews. Candidate Larreic “Larry” Green dropped out of the race after he was offered a position out of state, but his name was still listed on the ballot. In early June, he urged his supporters to support Holland.
Holland said she “will not go down that road” of accusing any candidate or political entity of having recruited Leya Davis and Cassidy.
On the issues, Holland said GOP nominee Mike Bakir spoke mostly about cutting taxes, and she believes in maintaining current taxes to ensure “quality of life.”
Of Debra Davis, Holland contrasted her support of pro-growth policies with her own “smart growth” policies, and said given budget turmoil in Charles County this year, when both the commissioners and school board took late actions to cut funding deficits, her experience in federal government managing a $100 million budget is an advantage that voters should support.
Taylor said as a Democrat and former candidate, he has no problem with Holland running a write-in campaign. “I think it’s democracy at its best.”
When asked if Holland’s campaign would be a problem within the county party or if it would divide the party, Charles County Democratic Central Committee Chairwoman Virginia Benedict said, “I don’t really think so” and declined to comment further.
Write-in candidates must file a certificate of candidacy with the state board of elections for their names to be considered as legitimate candidates if voters write them in on the ballot, according to a fact sheet on the Maryland Board of Elections website. Candidates are allowed to issue literature explaining the process to their prospective supporters.