Can­di­dates match seats on cen­tral com­mit­tees

New­com­ers and vet­eran mem­bers join June 26 bal­lot

The Enterprise - - News - By JOHN WHARTON jwhar­ton@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JohnEn­tNews

Cen­tral com­mit­tee mem­bers cho­sen by the two ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties in Mary­land’s coun­ties help fill va­can­cies that oc­cur in other elected po­si­tions, get a start­ing ground for po­ten­tial as­pi­ra­tions of their own, and ba­si­cally help out for the good of the party.

In St. Mary’s, next month’s pri­mary bal­lots for the Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can par­ties list tal­lies of can­di­dates that ex­actly match the num­ber of seats on each party’s lo­cal cen­tral com­mit­tee.

The Demo­cratic bal­lot, struc­tured to in­clude both women and men, in­cludes fe­male can­di­dates Diana D. Don­ahue of Me­chan­icsville, Heather Marin Earhart of Leonard­town, Laura Hart of Me­chan­icsville, Caroline Miller King of Cal­i­for­nia and Jane Loughran of Piney Point. Male can­di­dates in­clude Bill Bates of Leonard­town, Michael D. Brown of Lex­ing­ton Park, Shane Mat­tingly of Lex- in­g­ton Park, Sal Raspa of Lex­ing­ton Park and Collin Jay Foster, a teenager in Piney Point who will turn 18 this sum­mer.

Foster, a se­nior at Leonard­town High School, said that nei­ther state nor county by­laws list an age re­quire­ment for serv­ing on a cen­tral com­mit­tee, but “it’s kind of in­ter­preted that you have to be 18 by the time of the gen­eral elec­tion. You have to be a reg­is­tered Demo­crat to be able to run. You can’t vote at 16; you can just reg­is­ter. I got my [driver’s] per­mit at the same time.”

Foster’s po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests ac­cel­er­ated when he started high school. “That’s when I came out as gay,” Foster said. “It was a crit­i­cal pe­riod for LGBT rights. It was a hot topic at the time, in pol­i­tics.”

Send­ing emails and let­ters to law­mak­ers through­out the coun­try, Foster soon “re­al­ized how politi­cized it was, for good and bad rea­sons,” and the scope of his po­lit­i­cal in­volve­ment broad­ened when he learned of his dis­abled grand­mother’s risk of los­ing ben­e­fits. “I started with civil rights, and branched off from there,” he said. “I felt it was nec­es­sary to pro­tect the things that let my grand­mother live.”

The 2016 elec­tion “made me re­al­ize that this is a cru­cial pe­riod for me to get in­volved,” he said, and as the lo­cal com­po­nent of a broader “wake-up call for our party,” he added, “the cen­tral com­mit­tee helps shape our vi­sion and representation in the county. It starts at the grass­roots level.”

Con­ti­nu­ity is a key com­po­nent in this year’s slate of can­di­dates for the St. Mary’s Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, which in­cludes Bryan M. Barthelme II of Cal­i­for­nia, Jac­inta Bot­toms-Spencer of Cal­i­for­nia, Jennifer Hay­den Boyd of Bush­wood, Kevin Cioppa of Lex­ing­ton Park, Joe DiMarco of Me­chan­icsville, Cody Hance of Great Mills, Jodi Stanalo­nis of Hol­ly­wood, Karen P. Wa­then of Leonard­town and Hol­ly­wood res­i­dent David Wil­len­borg, the panel’s chair­man.

“The en­tire com­mit­tee will be re­turn­ing,” Wil­len­borg said, com­pared to a crowded field for the job four years ago. “The last elec­tion, we had 22” can­di­dates, he said, in­clud­ing some who “were lib­er­tar­ian-lean­ing Repub­li­cans. They had a clique.”

This year’s lineup in­cludes two com­mit­tee mem­bers who were ap­pointed to fill va­can­cies that oc­curred, Wil­len­borg said, in­clud­ing Wa­then, who filed in this year’s elec­tion af­ter her ap­point­ment, and Hance, who filed as a can­di­date be­fore be­ing in­ter­viewed and ap­pointed to serve out the cur­rent term.

“For us, it’s just the way it worked out,” Wil­len­borg said of the cur­rent panel’s con­tin­ued ser­vice.

STAFF PHOTO BY JOHN WHARTON

Collin J. Foster’s in­ter­est in pol­i­tics, and elected of­fice, has got­ten an early start.

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