Keedysville voters will get 2 hours

May 02, 1997


Staff Writer

A Keedysville man who says he doesn't like the way Mayor Ralph Taylor does town business, and the mayor's son-in-law are running for a council seat up for grabs in a two-hour special election on Saturday.

Frank J. Shifflett, 66, a Democrat who has lived in Keedysville for 27 years, is one of two candidates vying for a seat vacated by Yvonne Hope, who said she resigned in part because of the way town government is run.

The other candidate is retired Maryland State Police Sgt. James Kerns, 46, a Democrat who has lived in Keedysville for eight years and in the south county area for 38 years.


"Since I'm retired I have more time and I thought it would be a good time to get involved in politics," said Kerns, who is Taylor's son-in-law.

The winner of the election will serve the last year of Hope's two-year term.

Hope said she resigned because, "I felt like I was probably not able to represent Keedysville residents."

She claimed there were times decisions were made without the council being consulted.

Hope said the town has no treasurer, and in the four years she's been attending council meetings she has never seen a financial statement.

Hope said the atmosphere surrounding town operations created for her "a huge ethical, moral dilemma."

Shifflett said he is running for office to improve accountability.

"The first thing I'm going to do if I'm elected is ask for an audit of town books," he said.

Told that Shifflett doesn't like the way he runs the town, Taylor said, "I guess not. He's raised hell (about it) for the last 10 years." Taylor claimed Shifflett "harasses" him at mayor and council meetings.

On Saturday, Shifflett will have to vote by absentee ballot, because the polls will be open from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Shifflett will be running a bowling tournament that day.

The narrow voting window concerns the candidate. Shifflett said no one seems to know who sets voting hours in the town of 464 residents.

"I've looked in the charter, and found nothing about voting times," he said. "The only thing it says is that the election should be held the first Saturday in May."

"That's all we ever needed, was two hours," said Taylor, 81, a Republican who has been mayor for "more than 30 years."

Keedysville has 296 registered voters, including 141 Republicans, 115 Democrats, 36 declines and four others, on March 31, according to the Washington County Board of Election Supervisors.

Sharon Mackereth of the election board said state guidelines call for voting between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Towns can make their own laws, but residents can petition the town council to change them, she said.

As the election approaches, there are stirrings behind the scenes.

Hope said "an underground, grassroots movement" of residents concerned about town government is gaining momentum.

The election board early this week was busy fielding questions from Taylor and other town residents about state voting guidelines and the rights and duties of judges in polling places, Mackereth said.

And Hope recently took a volunteer voter registration training course that will allow her to sign up new voters, Mackereth said.

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