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Absentees to resolve who wins in primary

March 04, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Candidates for the Washington County Board of Education are awaiting the counting of nearly 600 absentee ballots today to learn who will advance to the Nov. 2 general election.

Fourteen candidates ran in Tuesday's primary election. The eight top votegetters will vie in the general election for four open seats.

Based on complete but unofficial results of Tuesday's balloting, Barry C. Harbaugh, 44, of Clear Spring, was in eighth place with 2,747 votes. Harbaugh was 12 votes ahead of Gary E. Nally, 46, of Williamsport.

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Also within striking distance were incumbent W. Princeton Young, 56, of Hagerstown, who was 227 votes behind Harbaugh, and the Rev. Blaine E. Feightner, 57, of Keedysville, who had 473 fewer votes than Harbaugh.

"It is close enough to keep it interesting," Harbaugh said Wednesday. "I am pleasantly surprised I did as well as I did."

Harbaugh said he thought he would come in around 10th place.

The Washington County Board of Elections has received 586 absentee ballots, Washington County Election Director Dorothy Kaetzel said. Probably not all of those ballots will be deemed eligible, she said.

The Board of Elections was to start counting absentee ballots at 10 a.m. today, Kaetzel said.

On Monday, the Board of Elections will count 10 provisional ballots, she said.

Overseas ballots are not due until March 12, she said. The board sent seven ballots overseas and does not know how many will be returned.

Complete but unofficial vote totals based on Tuesday's balloting are:

  • Incumbent Bernadette Wagner, 46, of Hagerstown, 5,434.

  • Wayne D. Ridenour, 52, of Williamsport, 5,279.

  • Incumbent Roxanne R. Ober, 44, of Hagerstown, 5,204.

  • Incumbent W. Edward Forrest, 40, of Hagerstown, 5,157.

  • William H. Staley, 59, of Hagerstown, 4,182.

  • Former board member Thomas Berry, 71, of Rohrersville, 3,912.

  • Teresa Spruill, 45, of Smithsburg, 2,829.

  • Harbaugh, 2,747.

  • Nally, 2,735.

  • Young, 2,520.

  • Freightner, 2,274.

  • Tom Janus, 61, of Hagerstown, 1,944.

  • George William "Bill" Sonnik III, 57, of Williamsport, 1,817 .

  • Richard Grassby, 68, of Hagerstown, 932.



The names of Connie Jantz, 39, of Knoxville, and Elizabeth Lay, 45, of Clear Spring, were on the ballot but both had dropped out of the race. Jantz pulled in 1,743 votes, and Lay received 2,068 votes.

Ridenour, who previously taught at Boonsboro Elementary School for about 30 years, credited his strong showing in the primary with good networking and being well known in the education community.

"I have been communicating with a lot of people," he said.

Wagner and Ober ran together as a slate. Wagner said she attributed their strong showing to voters recognizing that the two are leaders working hard to better the schools.

Spruill said Wednesday she was excited and pleased by her showing but was waiting before concluding that she is going to be on the general election ballot.

"I think I am hesitant. We will wait and see what the final count is," she said.

Gov. Robert Ehrlich appointed Young to the school board last May to fill the seat vacated by Doris Nipps, who was elected a Washington County Commissioner in November 2002.

Young said Wednesday he volunteered to be appointed "because I wanted to serve the students of Washington County, which I have done."

"Getting appointed to the board so late in the term, that did not help me with getting back in position to get re-elected. I am pleased and grateful for the 2,500 people who did vote for me," he said.

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