Maryland voters in eight counties will see either a contested judicial or prosecutor’s race on their ballots this year, and one county has both.
Incumbent prosecutors in Anne Arundel, Washington and Wicomico counties are facing challengers. In Harford, Howard and Kent there are contested races but no incumbents. Baltimore, Caroline, Carroll and Harford counties have contested judicial elections.
Anne Arundel County
Republican Wes Adams is challenged by Democrat Anne Colt Leitess, the interim state’s attorney he defeated in 2014. Adams touts his commitment to rehabilitation and has focused on the impact of the opioid epidemic in the county. Leitess, who worked in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office’s special victims unit since her defeat in 2014, says Adams has made the position too political.
Three-term incumbent Charles P. Strong Jr., a Republican, is facing Democrat Bernard “Bernie” Semier, a first-time candidate for political office. Strong emphasizes the need to prosecute drug dealers while getting assistance for non-violent offenders with addiction issues and called youth gang violence the other major issue in the county. Semier claims Strong is unwilling to communicate and work effectively with law enforcement, which causes cases to “fall apart.”
Interim State’s Attorney Jamie Dykes became a prosecutor in 2006 and served as deputy state’s attorney for Dorchester County in 2015 before becoming the interim top prosecutor in Wicomico. Dykes lists violent crime and victims’ services as priorities. Dykes’ opponent, W. Seth Mitchell, previously ran for the position in 2010 and has experience as both a prosecutor and public defender.
After the retirement of Harford County’s nine-term prosecutor Joesph I. Cassilly, longtime Baltimore prosecutor Albert Peisinger defeated Cassilly’s second-in-command for the Republican nomination. He faces Democrat Carlos R. Taylor, a defense attorney in the county. Peisinger touts his experience prosecuting a range of criminal cases and his leadership roles in his former office. Taylor contends the office has too frequently pursued minor crimes and ignored the growing opioid epidemic.
Republican Kim Yon Oldham, currently deputy state’s attorney, is facing Democrat Rich Gibson, a Baltimore City prosecutor. Oldham wants to continue aggressive prosecution of violent offenders and felony narcotics distributors while seeking treatment for non-violent drug addicts. Gibson would prioritize juvenile crime, domestic violence, repeat offenders, property crime and gangs.
Former State’s Attorney Robert H. Strong Jr., a Republican who retired in 2014, is seeking the office again and faces Democrat Bryan DiGregory, currently the deputy state’s attorney in Kent County. Strong served four terms before his retirement. He ran unsuccessfully for clerk of the court in 2014. DiGregory calls himself a career criminal trial lawyer as a public defender in Philadelphia then in Queen Anne’s County.
Four sitting judges, C. Carey Deeley Jr., Michael Finifter, Ruth Jakubowski and Dennis Robinson, garnered the most votes on both parties’ primary ballots but face challenger Leo Wayne Dymowski, a Libertarian, in the general election.
Deeley, a partner at Venable LLP, and Robinson, a partner at Whiteford, Taylor and Preston LLP, were both appointed in November 2016. Finifter, a state delegate, and Jakubowski, a private practitioner, were appointed in 2002.
Dymowski is a perennial candidate for office, running for judge in 2016, attorney general in 2014 and Congress in 2012.
Judge Jonathan Newell, previously Caroline County state’s attorney, was appointed in 2016. He is challenged by Dennis Farina, a private practitioner from Denton who received enough votes on the Democratic primary ballot to move forward to the general election.
Judge Richard R. Titus, a former private practitioner, was appointed in 2016. He is challenged by former prosecutor and current state employee Maria Oesterreicher won the Democratic primary to advance.
Sitting judges Paul W. Ishak and Lawrence F. Kreis Jr. are both 2017 appointees to the bench seeking confirmation from voters. Ishak was a longtime private practitioner and Kreis worked for the Maryland Office of the Attorney General.
Diane Adkins Tobin, currently the deputy state’s attorney for Harford County, got enough votes on the Democratic primary ballot to be on the general election ballot. Thomas Ashwell, a longtime public defender, is a registered Libertarian who could not be on the primary ballot and qualified later.