Voters in the rural crossroads of Galena apparently won't take "no" for an answer, at least not when it comes to picking their mayor.
Harry J. Pisapia made it known months ago that after a decade as the top elected official in the northern Kent County town, population 428, he wouldn't seek another four-year term.
Pisapia, 57, an insurance agent, told anyone who'd listen that he needed a break from the $100-a- month elected job, which occupies countless hours. He is vice president of the Galena Volunteer Fire Company and spends a lot of time umpiring local baseball games.
But when they went to the polls Tuesday and found that no one, neither Pisapia nor anyone else, had filed for the office, voters took matters into their own hands.
When the paper ballots were counted at Town Hall, Pisapia got 31 write-in votes. Twenty-one voters wrote in former Mayor John Mulford, who left office in 1991 because of heart problems.
"I'm really overwhelmed - flattered, I guess - that people would write in my name when I wasn't on the ballot," Pisapia said. "I've talked to a lot of people who want me to stay on."
He said he would serve at least until September, "but after that, it's going to be month to month."
About a dozen names were submitted as write-ins for the mayor's seat, said Town Clerk Virginia Shaw.
Two incumbents on the four-member council, Betty Carroll and Harry Pomrenke, ran unopposed and received 66 and 65 votes, respectively. The council has staggered terms, and the other two council seats were not up for election.
Turnout for the election was slightly above average, with 76 of Galena's 180 registered voters casting ballots.
"I guess we've had a little circus, but Harry's going to stay on," said Pomrenke, a retired engineer who is beginning his second term. "I'm sure this will all work out."
Carroll, who said she filed for re-election at the last minute because no one else had stepped forward, suggested that townspeople have just gotten used to having Pisapia around.
"Harry is at the coffee shop every morning, [or] at the post office, [and] his office is in town; he's just very visible," said Carroll, who works for Kent County's planning office. "There's no one who will follow Harry who will have the time to put into it that he has given."
Pisapia has said all along that he wouldn't quit until a replacement could be found, but no one is counting on a lifetime commitment from the Crofton native, who moved to the Eastern Shore 20 years ago.
"Harry won't leave us high and dry, but I can't imagine he'll finish the full term," Carroll said. "If he resigns, we'll just have to re-evaluate things."