Chris Nevin was overwhelmingly granted a third consecutive term as Hampstead's mayor Tuesday, while incumbents Jim Roark and Dave Unglesbee each resisted challenges from three others to win another term on the Town Council.
Nevin tallied 410 votes, compared with 179 for his challenger, newcomer Zach Tomlin. In the council race, Roark received 392 votes and Unglesbee had 390. Holly Oertel picked up 161 votes, Tim Babylon had 141 and Daniel Collier got 30. There were six votes for write-in council candidates, and four for write-in mayoral candidates.
Reached by phone for a comment after the election results were posted, Nevin said it was humbling to see he had the support of the town's voters by such margins.
"It was gratifying to see that with Jim and Dave we were all close in vote total, so the people recognized the team and the work we're doing," he said. "They liked the direction we're headed in and we plan to work very hard to make sure we continue to move Hampstead forward."
Nevin will be heading into his fifth full term as mayor, serving his first two terms beginning in 1995, before successfully running for a seat on the town council in 2003. He returned to the mayor's seat in November, 2010, when then Mayor Haven Shoemaker resigned in order to serve on the Carroll County Board of Commissioners, and was re-elected in 2011 and 2015.
The incumbent's vote totals were made possible by the 578 ballots that were cast by the time polls closed at 8 p.m., plus an additional 15 absentee ballots, out of 4,278 active voters in the town.
"The last time we had a contested election was eight years ago for the mayor's office, I think there was 50 more people that might have voted in that election, so relatively close," Nevin said, concerning the percentage of potential voters that turned out to cast ballots. "As far as our team; we knocked on every registered voter's door, we had an ad in one of our local papers here, it was on social media, we did everything possible to drive turnout."
"I'm just very encouraged that the people that did come out believe in what we're doing and we have their support," Roark added, noting that after a day of campaigning in unseasonably cold weather, he was, "Relieved. Tired."
Roark and Unglesbee both were elected to the council for the first time in 2015.
There was no morning or lunchtime rush at Hampstead Town Hall on Tuesday, according to Town Manager Tammi Ledley and Executive Assistant Lorena Vaccare, but those who were tuned in to the election streamed steadily in to vote throughout the day.
"I guess there was a little bit of a surge after normal working hours, between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. It started slowing down by 7:30 p.m.," Vaccare said. "We had one last-minute voter dash in right at 7:59 and 30 seconds."
Christie Miller was pleased to be one of the hundreds of voters in the town Tuesday.
"It's been really cool to see the community really involved in this one, this is the first town elections I've voted in," she said. "We've been here about 10 years and I've never known who the candidates were, never had a way to get to know the candidates."
Miller said social media, as well as the April 30 candidate forum, were key for her feeling well informed this year and willing to participate.
"I feel like I had an educated vote," she said. "I won't vote if I don't know."
And the issues Miller was concerned about as she cast her ballot?
"What's going to happen with the [North Carroll High School] property," she said. "I think what is going to happen with the Hampstead Overlook neighborhood — the hot topics."
Alex Schneider was another new Hampstead voter with a few issues on his mind as he cast his ballot Tuesday afternoon.
"I'm 18, so it's only the second time I've voted," he said.
Doing something positive with the former North Carroll High property was something Schneider said he was concerned about, plus "body cams for the police officers in town would also be important for me."
Jon Yost, meanwhile, said he wasn't that focused on issues in the election.
"There weren't any real issue I was concerned about," he said. "One of the things I keep meaning to do is to come to a town council meeting, but I never seem to make it except once every other year."
Atera Niko, who has been in Hampstead about a year, said she is a friend of Tomlin's and is interested in something new.
"What is in place has been in place for a long time, and I would like to see some changes," she said. "Bring some more business in."
But now that the incumbents are staying, the town will return to business as usual pretty quickly, according to Nevin, with the three officials beginning their new terms at Wednesday's council meeting.
"We have a brief council meeting at the beginning and then we have the transition," he said. "I swear in Dave and Jim and then we introduce new ordinances and continue with business as normal."
As good as victory felt Tuesday night, Unglesbee said, he was ready to get back to work.
"I feel the town is behind us and the citizens are behind us and we're going to keep producing for them what we've been doing," he said. "I have stuff waiting on my plate."