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Editorial: With local Super Tuesday looming, thanks to the candidates who drove debate

After three municipal elections last week, including some notable results in Taneytown, it’s time for Carroll County’s version of Super Tuesday, with Westminster, Hampstead, New Windsor and Union Bridge all holding elections on May 14. Hampstead and Union Bridge both have mayoral and town council races while Westminster and Union Bridge are just picking council members.

It will be interesting to see if the upcoming elections play out in a similar fashion to the ones already held. In Taneytown, Councilman Bradley Wantz, age 37, defeated three-term mayor James L. McCarron Jr. and two other more veteran politicians to win the mayoral race. Wantz told us he was thrilled the voters “have chosen a new generation of Taneytown’s leadership. … It’s past due and I am excited to go past the status quo.”

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Additionally, Taneytown voters chose 21-year-old Daniel Haines as one of their new councilmen as several voters mentioned they wanted to see some “young blood” in positions of power in that town, which has not been without controversy in recent years.

Hampstead has had some issues of its own and the challengers there are hoping to see that election trend continue in their town, where Zach Tomlin is trying to unseat four-term Mayor Christopher Nevin and three challengers are trying to take down two incumbents for town council.

Union Bridge will not have a “new” mayor as either incumbent Perry Jones, who has served five terms, though not consecutively, or Bret Grossnickle, a former mayor and councilman, will occupy the spot after Tuesday. But the Westminster and New Windsor councils will each have at least one fresh face. Six are running for three seats in each election.

In Westminster, Greg Pecoraro is the lone incumbent seeking reelection against former Mayor Kevin Dayhoff and four who are trying for a first council term in Kate Carter, Steven Collela, Ann Thomas Gilbert and Jessica Laird. In New Windsor, incumbents David Hoffman and Kimberlee Schultz are running against Terry Green, Thomas Gubernatis, William Holl and Michael Zepp.

Both Westminster and New Windsor held forums last week, allowing the candidates to try to distinguish themselves from their opponents, discussing pressing problems and possible fixes.

Hampstead and Union Bridge will likely have a much higher percentage of eligible voters turn out since they are voting for a mayor. Taneytown saw about a 24 percent voter turnout Monday, while Sykesville had a little less than 7 percent and Mount Airy was less than 6. It’s hard to imagine that fewer than 1 in 10 voters come out to decide who will make the most important decisions on the future of these municipalities, but, in fairness, Mount Airy had an uncontested election and Sykesville had four candidates for three seats who all seemed to have a similar vision.

The campaign season in Hampstead had a higher profile than usual and it was somewhat contentious, so it would not be a surprise if turnout there was every bit as robust as in Taneytown and Union Bridge is likely to have solid turnout as well. Given that Westminster and New Windsor both have relatively crowded fields, turnout could be higher than usual for a season that doesn’t feature a mayoral race, perhaps pushing well into the double-digits percentage-wise.

We wish those who won last week well as they undertake the tremendous challenge that lies ahead. And we offer good luck to all the candidates in Tuesday’s election.

Mostly, however, we thank all who have participated because their mere presence on these ballots elevated the process. A contested race means issues are raised and discussed, which fosters debate and often produces good ideas and even solutions. Our vote would be for even more citizens to run in the next round of municipal elections.

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