Stacy Link was well aware of the history she was trying to make in Sykesville. If she forgot for even a moment Tuesday on Election Day, she said she was reminded by all the women giving her thumbs-up signs or fist pumps or blowing kisses on their way to or from the polls.
Record-setting turnout, which meant the hand-counting of ballots wasn’t complete until well past midnight, helped Link to become the first female mayor of Sykesville, which was incorporated in 1904.
Link, who had served on the Town Council since 2013, defeated incumbent Ian Shaw by more than 100 votes, finishing with 519 votes compared to 408 for the two-term mayor.
“There was not one minute I wasn’t aware history was being made,” Link said, noting that it wasn’t just women who were excited and shared that she received several congratulatory messages from men who have daughters. “They made it very clear, their desire to have strong women in leadership positions to offer someone to look up to, a role model.”
The Town Council election was also hotly contested, with five candidates vying for three seats.
Incumbents Al Grasley (508 votes) and Leo Keenan (507) were reelected as the top vote-getters and will be joined on the council by political newcomer Elizabeth Guroff, who finished with 461 votes to narrowly edge William Keith Mathis (449) and former council member Frank Robert (424).
Results were announced Wednesday morning at about 3 a.m. by Town Clerk Kerry Chaney.
Link said she lightheartedly told people throughout the campaign she had two goals: for this Sykesville election to produce a record turnout and to have more than half of those turning out vote for her. Both goals were accomplished.
Unofficially, there were 927 ballots cast Tuesday. That would represent a roughly 30% increase over the previous record of 614 set in the 2017 mayoral election, when Shaw won with 392 votes over challenger Dan Anderson’s 222.
Julia Gouge, who became Hampstead’s mayor in 1983, was the first woman to win the top spot in a Carroll County municipality. Linda Boyer served as mayor of Mount Airy from 1986 to 1990.
Link said she was becoming more confident that she would win in the weeks and days leading up to the election.
“That confidence was really rooted in my engagement with the residents, which was the focus of the campaign,” she said. “It was a grassroots campaign for sure. ... I’m a firm believer that with information-sharing comes engagement. While I was engaging with the citizens, they were sharing their visions. They’ve really thought about it.
“They have dreams about a connected and diverse community as I do, where there’s a place for anyone who wants to spend a day here or call it home.”
Shaw expressed disappointment, but said it was a sign that it’s time to let someone else do the work and he would likely focus on expanding his real estate business.
“We knew it was going to be close. To put in all that work and after doing such a good job, it’s a little disappointing,” Shaw said. “The good Lord must have something else in store for me.”
Link had expressed frustration throughout the campaign at the lack of progress on certain projects and the lack of communication by the mayor to council members and to town residents.
Having served on the Town Council for the past eight years, Link expressed confidence that she and the other council members will work well together and noted that she had nominated for candidacy the newly elected Guroff.
“Working with the new council that I’ll be sharing the table with after we’re all sworn in will always be productive,” she said. “That 360-degree view that I think any healthy group of people must have to represent the greater community is definitely going to be available now.”
Link also made note of the May 11 election in Westminster, where Mona Becker is attempting to become the first female mayor of that city.
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“I believe that she’s harnessing that same support I was able to,” Link said.