Laurel City Council final election counts confirm unofficial results

Following a close race in Tuesday’s Ward 1 Laurel City Council election, the absentee and provisional ballot count Wednesday did not change the unofficial outcomes. Councilwoman Valerie Nicholas, with 480 votes, and newcomer Carl DeWalt, 467 votes, were elected in what city officials called one of its closest races.

Ward 1 Councilman H. Edward Ricks fell 16 votes behind DeWalt with 451 votes. Ricks, who was seeking a fourth term, said Tuesday it was “a very tough race.”

Kim Rau, clerk to the Laurel Board of Elections, said the city confirmed 23 absentee ballots and three provisional ballots for both wards.

Wednesday’s final count also confirmed the re-election of at-large Councilman Michael Leszcz with 806 votes, defeating Jeffrey Mills, who received 627 votes. In Ward 2, Councilman Frederick Smalls, 382 votes, was re-elected to an eighth term and Keith Sydnor, 454 votes, was elected to his first term over candidates Adrian Rousseau, 242 votes, and Thomas Matthews, 271.

Leszcz, elected to his 11th term on the council, said the voters made their decision and the council will “keep moving ahead.”

“The winners are up to the public,” Leszcz. “They have to assess who is going to do the best job for them for the next two years and I think we’re going to do a great job.”

Matthews said the results “are what they are” and that he was proud of his “hard-fought campaign.”

“My voters didn’t come out,” he said. “I don’t have any interjections.”

Despite the outcome, Matthews said he felt better about his second campaign for office, having previously run for a Ward 2 seat in 2013, and plans to run again.

The newly elected City Council will be sworn-in Monday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Laurel Municipal Center.

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