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Mayor-elect Bowers seeks town unity

May 14, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

SMITHSBURG - It took fewer than three hours to count the 583 paper ballots Tuesday, but Smithsburg mayor-elect Tommy Bowers said it will take much longer to reunite the town after a divisive election that put him in charge of the town government that ousted him.

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"I've got to win over the confidence of a lot of people," said the former police chief, who savored his win at home Wednesday morning. "I hope everyone can bury their animosities - including myself."

Bowers won the election over incumbent Mildred "Mickey" Myers by a six-vote margin Tuesday. Bowers officially got 291 votes to Myers' 285, said Town Clerk Betsy Martin.

Myers did not ask for a recount.

Tensions that ran high during the campaign continued Wednesday with the protest resignation of a parks commission member and the discovery of roofing nails in the driveway of the 55 W. Water St. home of Myers' son and daughter-in-law.

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Myers said she believes Bowers' supporters threw the 50 to 60 nails in the driveway of her son, Terry Myers.

"I'm not going to tolerate my family being vandalized. I've lived in the past year under an extreme amount of threats and threatening behavior. It's got to end," she said.

Smithsburg Police Chief Vincent P. du Cellier Jr. took a report on the incident, but had no leads on the culprits, he said.

Someone tossed into Myers' yard flyers that read, "Smithsburg or Myersburg," with "Myersburg" scratched out.

Bowers, 47, condemned both acts of apparent retaliation and said if he finds out who the vandals are he will turn over the information to du Cellier.

The protest resignation came from Barbara Griffith, who wrote, "Due to my personal beliefs and ideas I do not feel that I can work comfortably with the new administration."

Richard Eckstine resigned from the water and sewer commission on Wednesday, but not necessarily because of the election outcome.

"It's been a pleasure to serve on the water sewer board with Mrs. Myers. I'm over 70 years old and you get tired," he said.

No town employees, most of whom had openly supported Myers, quit their jobs Wednesday.

"I'm here for the people of the town. We have to move forward," said Martin, who has worked for the town for nearly 11 years.

Du Cellier said he plans to continue business as usual even though Bowers has pending a lawsuit that asks that the reinstate him as police chief.

Public Works Coordinator Fred Hartley didn't hide his disappointment with the election results.

"I think it's a travesty, what this town's done. I have a hard time understanding it," Hartley said.

Hartley said he has seen Bowers angrily throw papers in Myers' face and heard him yelling at her behind closed doors. Bowers has denied any wrongdoing. He claims Myers tried to micromanage the police department.

"I have seen him go off and can I work for a person like that? It's very questionable," he said.

Bowers, who will be sworn in on June 2, also has to work with three members of the council who approved Myers' decision to fire him last August.

Myers agreed with Bowers that the town has a long way to go before the hard feelings from the election are forgotten.

"I'm a little concerned about the future of the town because I don't foresee the division solving itself quickly," she said.

Myers said she received phone calls and visits from supporters at Town Hall on Wednesday.

"It's been very uplifting. I don't have any regrets as far as what I have done," she said.

She plans to remain active in the community, particularly at her church. She also plans to travel and fish with her husband.

Myers said she is willing to cooperate with Bowers to make the transition go smoothly for the sake of the taxpayers.

"After all, this is still my town," she said.

Bowers said he is tired from the election, but knows he has a large task at hand.

"Enough's enough. Let's unite and move on," Bowers said. To do that, Bowers said he'll "just be me."

One Bowers' supporter said she is happy to see new leadership for the town.

"I think Mrs. Myers has been part of Smithsburg for a long time. It's nice to have new ideas," she said.

But she and other supporters will watch to see if Bowers follows through with his promises, such as one to find activities for the town's youth.

If not, Smithsburg voters have a new option. On Tuesday, residents voted to amend the town charter to allow for recall of elected officials.

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