Council election ends in a tie

May 11, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

BOONSBORO - A runoff vote may be scheduled to determine the outcome of Boonsboro's town election after the race between two candidates for an open Town Council seat ended in a tie Monday.

Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman, who won his fifth term as mayor, said a runoff between Richard W. Gross and Kevin M. Chambers is the most likely option for determining who will fill the remaining open council seat starting in June.

William L. Tritapoe edged out Gross and Chambers with 89 votes, winning a four-year seat on the Town Council. Gross, a councilman for 24 years, and Chambers, who was seeking his third term, each garnered 87 votes. Mark K. Smith finished with 47 votes.


Several town residents and officials said the tie was a shock and the first they had heard of in a council election.

"I'm not surprised it was so close, but it's rather incredible there was a tie," Kauffman said.

Town Clerk Barbara Rodenhiser and three election registrars initially decided to break the tie with a ballot that had been disqualified because the markings were not clear. The ballot contained votes for both Gross and Chambers and would not have broken the stalemate.

Eight other ballots were disqualified by Rodenhiser.

Rodenhiser said she was unsure how the tie will be broken and does not believe the town charter addresses ties.

Kauffman said the town will thoroughly review the charter and consult its attorney before a decision is made. However, Kauffman said "there is no doubt in my mind" that there will be a runoff election between Gross and Chambers.

Out of an eligible 1,578 residents, 180 people voted, for an 11 percent turnout, Rodenhiser said.

Tritapoe, though elated by his victory, said he was disappointed by the low turnout. Tritapoe said he was thankful for all the people who voted him into office for the first time, and that he would not have to wait to find out his fate, like Gross and Chambers.

"I wouldn't want to go through the runoff," he said with a laugh.

Tritapoe and other residents gave partial credit for his win to his door-to-door campaigning and posting of fliers.

"He worked for it," said election registrar Jerry Strailman. "He was the guy knocking on doors."

Kauffman, who has been mayor since 1988, ran unopposed and garnered 145 votes. Three other candidates received at least one write-in vote Monday.

Kauffman said he hopes the lack of an opponent signified that people are pleased with the job he has done rather than a lack of interest.

"I'm just honored the citizens keep re-electing me," Kauffman said. "I appreciate their vote of confidence."

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