The Westminster Common Council will have two new members, and the sole incumbent running for re-election retained his seat after Tuesday’s election.
Councilman Greg Pecoraro won a second consecutive term with 401 votes, while former Mayor Kevin Earl Dayhoff won a seat with 410 votes and Ann Thomas Gilbert rounded out the new council with 372. The three winning candidates will serve a term of four years.
A total of 686 votes were cast Tuesday, out of 12,026 active and inactive voters. At the previous municipal election, which included a mayoral race, in 2017, the total number of votes cast was 1,008.
The new council will be sworn in during the council meeting on Monday, May 20. The meeting will begin with the current council and end with the new one after the swearing-in.
After the results came in Tuesday night, Pecoraro said, “For me, running again was about seeing some things to completion.”
In the past four years, one such project was crafting a plan for the city’s water supply that would allow it to continue growing in a measured way, despite water limitations. Seeing that through, as well as the completion of the Westminster Fiber Network and “turning it into the economic tool that we believe it can be,” are on his agenda for the next four years, he said.
Pecoraro also expressed excitement with newly appointed Westminster police Chief Tom Ledwell’s approach to policing in the city, and wanted to ensure that the police department receives the support it needs from elected officials.
Gilbert said she enjoyed getting to know all of the candidates and would like to see those who didn’t win a council seat continue to stay involved and bring their talents to the city.
“It takes a lot of courage,” she said. “It takes a lot just to run for any political office. And I applaud them.”
Dayhoff agreed. “It was exciting to have such a positive campaign,” he said. “I think the City of Westminster won by attracting so much talent.”
Gilbert said she was honored that the people of the city put their faith in her.
“I look forward to all the new things I'm going to learn because there's going to be a lot,” she said, “And I'm, I'm almost kind of speechless at the moment.”
Dayhoff agreed with that, too, and said that in the beginning of his term it would probably feel like “drinking from a water hose,” because of the city’s complexity.
“There's nothing glamorous about it. It's just a lot of rolling up your sleeves and hard work,” he said. “And [with] the City of Westminster, it’s a lot of constituent service. And we've got a great group for that.”
As of lunchtime Tuesday, election judges said there had been a steady trickle throughout the day, without the morning rush that some expected. Just after 12:30 p.m., both locations were neck-and-neck, with 141 voters at one location and 143 at the other.
In this election, new voting machines were used for the first time.
At the Westminster Municipal Pool, one of two polling locations for city residents, Paula Troxell, who also serves as an election official in other elections, said that the new machines were easy to use.
The issue that most interested her in a candidate forum last Wednesday was the fate of the former Wakefield Valley Golf Club site. “It needs to be resolved,” Troxell said.
Walt Jones, who serves as a election judge in national elections, said he wanted to get into the habit of paying more attention to the local races.
Jones said he hoped to see more downtown development. “I’m looking for some people who may have some new ideas,” he said.
Candidates could be found at both locations, often switching back and forth throughout the day.
After voting at John Street Quarters in the early afternoon, Kenneth and Jean Seitz said that street repair, encouraging a lively downtown and addressing drug problems in the city were the issues they paid attention to when voting.
Kenneth, 81, said he is a lifelong resident of the city. “It’s not a small little town like it used to be,” he said.
Jean said Winters Alley was one of the streets that most needed repair.
Anne and Don Nevin were pleased to vote in the city election for the first time. After living just three blocks outside city limits for many years, they had just moved within the municipality and were excited to be a part of the “small town stuff,” Anne said, even though they could not vote for their son Chris, who ran as an incumbent in the race for Hampstead mayor.
Preserving their historic neighborhood was high on the list of priorities for Mary Churchill, president of the Historic Belle Grove Square Neighborhood Association, and Robert Churchill as they voted in the afternoon.
Along with preservation, they were concerned with policing in the area and hoped to see drug distribution problems stop.
And a recent council vote to allow gun sales at businesses in the downtown business district zoning area with a special exception left the pair “incensed.” Robert said that he did not see the need because it is not difficult for an individual to legally purchase a firearm at a major retailer.
Suzanne Albert served as the chief election judge at the municipal pool voting location. As someone who spent 20 years on the Westminster Common Council and was its first female president, she said it was fun to be on the other side of things.
“Municipal government is the closest to the people. … The immediacy is different from other elections,” she said. Though she wished more people would come out, she said the day had been “very positive.”