Open seat draws District 20 candidates into race -- Gazette.Net


More than a dozen candidates have been rumored for the June ballot in District 20, but among the list of challengers officially in the fray, only one was not drawn by the lure of a vacancy.

Del. Heather Mizeur’s decision to run for Maryland governor means her District 20 will be up for grabs.

Latest counts have about half-a-dozen candidates saying they are running — only one who has filed with the Maryland Board of Elections — including incumbent Dels. Tom Hucker (D) and Sheila Ellis Hixson (D), both of Silver Spring.

George Zokle, 34, stood alone among the new political hopefuls for the progressive downcounty district, saying Mizeur’s gubernatorial bid held no bearing on his own decision to seek office.

“There is never going to be a perfect time to run,” he said.

Zokle, a lawyer, said many issues need to be strengthened in Annapolis, including economic equality, cultural competency and mental health advocacy.

David Moon, 34, who has followed Maryland politics as the author of Maryland Juice and just last weekend held a campaign fundraiser, said he would not have challenged a full slate of incumbents.

“My experience with running campaigns tells me that would not have been the most leveraged use of my time,” Moon said.

Yet Moon noted that “nobody owns their seat,” and that every time House of Delegates seats are up for election, it is for the voters to choose who fills all three.

William C. Smith, 31, who announced his campaign in early August, said the number of people who could throw their hat in the ring for Mizeur’s seat is indicative of the district.

“I think we have the best delegates in all of Maryland,” he said. “Now that there is an open seat, it is an opportunity for me to give back to the community on a larger level.”

Justin W. Chappell, 34, the only candidate thus far to file, said he supports the incumbents as they go for another term, and that his campaign will be focused on issues.

“I certainly respect the incumbents and the fact that there is an open seat,” he said. “I would be honored to fill that seat.”

With all three seats up for election, history shows that hard-fought campaigns have the power to oust incumbents.

Mizeur earned her seat in the House in 2006 when she and Hucker — also a newcomer that year — elbowed out incumbent Del. Gareth Murray (D) of Silver Spring to earn top votes in the primary.