With results from Tuesday’s municipal elections in, this spring’s voting season in Carroll County is essentially over.
Manchester will hold the final local election of this spring on Tuesday, though all three incumbents — Mayor Ryan Warner and council members Jennifer Miller and Vincent Pacelli — are running unopposed.
But after this week’s slate of competitive races in Westminster, Hampstead, Union Bridge and New Windsor, there are some key observations to take away.
Incumbents win across the board
Of the nine incumbents running on Tuesday, across all four municipalities, not a single one lost.
Chris Nevin won a third consecutive term as Hampstead’s mayor, while incumbents Jim Roark and Dave Unglesbee each resisted challenges from three others to retain their seats.
In New Windsor, incumbents David Hoffman and Kimberlee Schultz retained their Town Council seats, while newcomer Terry Green also earned a seat.
Mayor Perry Jones and longtime councilmen Donald Wilson and Edgar Wentz reclaimed their positions in Union Bridge.
And the sole incumbent running for re-election in Westminster, Greg Pecoraro, retained his seat.
If there was any suspicion that this election season would be one to bring sweeping change, it appears the voters disagreed with that notion.
Low turnout in Westminster
In Westminster’s race for three open Common Council seats, a total of 686 votes were cast, out of 12,026 active and inactive voters. That means 5.7% of registered voters turned out in Westminster on Tuesday.
In the city’s previous municipal election in 2017 — which included a mayoral race, which tends to draw greater interest among voters — the total number of votes cast was 1,008. In 2015, the most recent Westminster municipal election without a mayoral race, turnout was slightly higher than this year but was still in the single digits, at about 8%.
The low turnout appeared to continue a trend seen in the 2017 election as well. Although more votes were cast in that election, compared to this week’s, the total of 1,008 didn’t measure up to other Carroll municipalities.
In that same 2017 election, 1,916 people voted in Mount Airy — 28.75 percent of all registered voters — and 998 voted in much-smaller Taneytown. Union Bridge voters came out at a 15-percent clip, and Sykesville was close to 14 percent.
Taneytown’s ballot total this year was similarly high, at 1,036. That’s out of 4,405 active registered voters — a rate of nearly 24%.
In Union Bridge, the final count of 124 ballots cast — up from 85 in 2017 — out of 566 registered voters for 21.9%, second only to Taneytown this year.
New Windsor’s turnout rate was about 18% this year, or 183 votes cast out of 1,006 registered voters. That was the highest of any municipality without a mayoral race.
In Hampstead, 578 ballots were cast, plus an additional 15 absentee ballots, out of 4,278 active voters in the town for just under 14%.
Sykesville’s turnout was somewhat higher this year than the previous election that did not include a mayoral race. In 2015, 164 voters cast ballots, whereas the total passed 200 this year. Sykesville has 3,037 total eligible voters.
Turnout in Mount Airy was only slightly above Westminster’s rate this year — 404 ballots were cast out of 6,852 total eligible voters, a rate of 5.9%.
New Windsor voters lose two options late
In the week before Tuesday’s election, voters in New Windsor lost two candidates from the pool.
Mayor Neal Roop announced that Holl was ineligible because he has resided within the town’s limits only since February 2018, some nine months short of the required two years prior to the election.
When reached for comment Monday, Holl said he was shocked and confused when he found out little more than 12 hours before the election that he was not eligible to hold office.
“It’s actually pretty concerning. I don’t know why all of a sudden things changed,” Holl said. “They knew about this for months. I never lied. It just seems really weird that they’re doing this now.”
According to Holl, he was certified as eligible to run more than three months ago. Holl’s ineligibility took so long to discover due to an oversight on the town’s part, according to Roop.
That Monday ruling stirred some controversy as fellow candidate Tom Gubernatis — who did not win a council seat — alleged he was being unfairly cast on social media as the reason Holl was pulled from the race.
A post attributed to Councilman Ed Smith on Facebook stated that Gubernatis had emailed the town to inquire about Holl’s residency. Gubernatis said in response that he had asked a general question about candidacy requirements, not specifically about Holl.
“I’m being singled out as somebody that made specific inquiries of William Holl’s candidacy,” Gubernatis said. “He said that I had emailed the town to inquire about William Holl’s candidacy, but I sent a simple inquiry to town hall for clarification on the residency [requirement], whether the resident is permanent or not and anything that might accompany eligibility. I got a response from the town hall with a link and what section to look in, so I don’t understand why we have the commentary on the Facebook post.”
Supporters of Holl were disappointed and took to Facebook. Shelli French-Hudson wrote: “New Windsor is the one who lost out. You won’t find a more compassionate and dedicated ‘resident’ I think we should all feel sorry for the person who ‘shared’ his or her concerns over William and his residency issues…”
Smith, when reached by phone Wednesday morning, said he thought Gubernatis’ accusations were “ridiculous.” He declined to make any further comment.
Holl said he intends to run in the next Town Council election, in 2021, when he should be eligible.
Roop had no further comment on the dispute.