MOUNT AIRY -- Councilmen Marcum N. Nance and David W. Pyatt spent hours at the poll Monday, waving to voters and chatting with them to gauge their mood.
By 7:30 p.m. -- a half-hour before the poll at the Mount Airy Fireman's Activity Building closed -- they had relaxed a bit. A surge of voters for two challengers in the council election hadn't showed.
As incumbents in a year when "incumbent" isn't a popular title, Nance and Pyatt took nothing for granted.
But voters in this South Carroll town bucked the national mood and returned three incumbents to their seats for four-year terms. Nance, Pyatt and Councilman William E. Wagner Jr. won easily over challengers Philip R. Dorsey and James R. Lumadue.
Turnout was relatively low, as 488 of the town's 1,704 registered voters, or 29 percent, came to the polls, said Mason Wilburn, chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Elections.
Wagner, who owns Mount Airy Locker Co., was the top vote-getter, with 431 votes. Nance received 310, followed by Pyatt with 303.
Dorsey, a retired Montgomery County employee who heads the town's Ethics Commission, received 228 votes. Lumadue, a designer-drafter with a Silver Spring company and a member of the town's Board of Appeals, received 91.
The election season was quiet, in part because no mayoral candidate was on the ballot. Rancorous mayoral elections polarized the town in 1988 and 1990. Three years ago, the council voted to increase the mayor's term from two years to four.
"There's no real big issues, no real big scandals going on at the present time," said Patricia Norwood, 51, a lifelong town resident who came to vote with her husband, Wayne.
The only hint of malice came late Sunday night, when someone posted black and white signs on utility poles with Dorsey's name and a slash through it.
Dorsey would not comment, saying only that the story behind the signs would "come out."
Mayor Gerald R. Johnson said he took down many of the signs Monday morning because they were put on public property without permission.
"They were put up apparently in the dark of night. I think it was immature," he said. Dorsey was the mayor's campaign manager two years ago.
After the results were announced at about 10:15 p.m., Dorsey was at VFW Post 10076 on Main Street with friends.
"I did a clean campaign, and I lost. I'd like to thank everyone," he said.
Lumadue acknowledged that he hadn't spent much time campaigning, saying, "I had prior commitments. I wasn't really prepared for campaigning."
The three winners Monday said they hope to continue work they began in their current term.
Wagner, who has spearheaded the town's recycling efforts, said he wants to see the curbside recycling program implemented.
Pyatt, who oversees parks and recreation facilities, said he would like to have a community swimming pool built. He also wants to make sure ball fields at the new Twin Ridge Elementary School are finished on time and are accessible to community groups.
Nance, who oversees streets and roads, said he will continue to improve the intersection at the Mount Airy Shopping Center.
Town officials received a complaint from one resident about the voting procedure.
5l "I voted on a little piece of paper on a big open table," said Mark Wichtendahl, 31. "There was absolutely no privacy."
Johnson said the town saved about $2,000 by not using voting booths and computerized ballots.