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Councilmen accused of electioneering Candidate who lost in May 3 balloting criticizes winners


The unsuccessful candidate in Taneytown's May 3 City Council election accused the three incumbent winners last night of breaking the state's electioneering law.

"On our election day, we had four candidates, three of whom are now sitting on City Council," Roger Keller said at last night's council meeting. "All of [the winners] electioneered. I did not, because I did not want to break the law."

The 46-year-old county maintenance worker claimed that Councilmen James L. McCarron, Thomas J. Denike and Henry C. Heine Jr. were less than 300 feet from the polls -- the distance mandated by state law -- during the election.

Responding to the charge, Mayor Henry I Reindollar Jr. told Mr. Keller that Town Manager Joseph A. Mangini Jr. told him that the state electioneering law did not apply to Taneytown's elections.

"We're going to have to discuss this with Tom," the mayor said, referring to Town Attorney Thomas H. Stansfield.

Mr. Stansfield was not present at last night's meeting. Neither was Mr. Mangini.

The three incumbent councilmen were unavailable to comment. They were still involved in the council meeting at press time.

In a brief interview outside city hall, Mr. Keller -- who ran on a platform demanding change in the way the council does business -- said the three incumbents held open the doors for voters.

"They even walked right into council chambers with them," he said.

The sole polling place in Taneytown is the council chambers at City Hall.

Mr. Keller, a six-year Taneytown resident, lost the four-way election on a day of low voter turnout.

Of the 205 votes cast, Mr. Keller received 70. The other three candidates garnered between 151 and 184 votes each.

"The issue is fairness," Mr. Keller said last night. "It [his opponents' alleged electioneering] put me at a distinct disadvantage, because I chose not to do it."

He said he is asking for a new election and prosecution of the three incumbent councilmen.

Violations of the electioneering law carry a maximum fine of $500 and a 60-day jail sentence.

Asked whether his criticism should be dismissed as political sour grapes, Mr. Keller was defiant.

"Is it sour grapes, or is it an effort to expose council members for some of the things they habitually do?" he responded.

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