ACCOKEEK — Tamara Davis Brown, write-in candidate for Prince George’s County Council District 9, is calling for a referendum on the Official Democratic Sample Ballot handed out by the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee (DCC) during the primary election.
Brown ran for county council during the primary election in a close race, losing to Sydney Harrison by only 55 votes. After opting out of the chance for a recount due to the cost and the support from residents of District 9, she decided to continue her campaign as a write in candidate. If Brown wins the election, she will be the second democratic write-in candidate to win county or state office in 28 years, after Stephen Del Guidice.
“There was a lot of political gainsmanship in the race,” she said. “This is not my first time running but despite having lost I’ve always remained very active and involved. The political gainsmanship that has occurred has to do with the Official Democratic Sample Ballot which picks winners and losers among people of the same party, which we think is not only unfair, but it does not give residents the opportunity to research and decide who is the better candidate.”
Brown hopes to unveil the tactics used by the Democratic Party to sway voters’ decisions, one of those being the Official Democratic Sample Ballot that presented only a select few candidates as options for voters.
Back in June before the primary election, county resident Janna Parker, who was working with various campaigns, had heard people talking about the Official Democratic Sample Ballot and received them in the mail but was hesitant about filling it out. Then, she saw DCC Treasurer Faye Martin Howell passing out an “Official District 24 Democratic Primary Sample Ballot” during early voting and felt that it was used to sway the voting process.
“I felt as though certain political machines were controlling the vote,” she said. “I felt like it was stealing the vote and therefore stealing my own voice even if it was outside of my district and I just feel like this is not what should be done within Prince George’s County. It’s not done in other counties and if it is done in other counties its swift retribution to making it stop and moving forward to something different.
“The fact that Prince George’s County and the Democratic Central Committee was so slow to move, even the fact that the treasurer was the one passing out the sample ballots with her tag on, all of those things reeked of something I didn’t think was appropriate for the Democratic Party for our county.”
Brown says that sample ballot is unfair to those running for office as it creates an uneven playing field as well as to the voters who may get confused on who is actually running for office.
“I’ve been a victim of that sample ballot for a number of elections and I just think that it’s really unfair for those who are not as sophisticated voters it can be confusing,” she said. “More importantly I think the real problem is, which is why I want to see a referendum on it, is that it picks winners and losers based on whoever is in the favor of the political establishment.”
Brown and her campaign team have been active in rallying support for the referendum by meeting with local committees encouraging support to ban the use of the sample ballot. They have also been active on social media, at local DCC meetings and holding community events such as a fundraiser cookout that took place on Sept. 3.
A Prince George’s County resident since 1988, Brown is a telecommunications lawyer and community activist. She has been involved in a number of organizations over the years having been president of the Windbrook Area Citizens Association, president of the South County Democratic Club and was appointed to the Maryland Consumer Council by Governor Martin O’Malley in 2009 and was re-appointed by Governor Larry Hogan in 2015.
As part of her platform for District 9, the largest district in the county land-wise with a lot of rural and suburban areas but often “forgotten about” is to ensure that it is getting the resources that its taxpaying residents are paying for, Brown stated.
“We don’t get much of the resources tax dollar-wise or the good schools, repairing and widening the roads is necessary for the new development that is coming there,” Brown said. “(We need) a police and fire station that is fully staffed. We seem to get the least amount of resources for the tax dollars that we pay.”
Overall, her campaign is about putting “People over Politics,” that includes the referendum on the Democratic Sample Ballot, listening to and implementing the best interests of county residents over the political gainsmanship of candidates and continuing her almost 20 years of raising awareness of the influence of local government on residents’ everyday lives.
Parker said there has been a lot of speculation and allegations about the DCC controlling voters and she said she supports Brown’s referendum effort hoping that it will bring about some kind of change.
“I think that that’s a good idea and I think that that definitely needs to be done,” she said. “There are a lot of things that I feel like the Democratic Central Committee just has to be pushed on and there are questions that I have…I think that having the referendum is forcing it to stay honest and keep a level playing-field for everyone running.”
The DCC did not respond to our request for comment.