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Absentee ballots could decide council race

May 20, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Washington County election officials will count absentee ballots today to determine the outcome of the Hagerstown City Council race, which was too close to call Tuesday night.

Dorothy Kaetzel, director of the Washington County Board of Elections, said the absentee ballots probably will determine the face of the next council. Of the 210 ballots that were issued, 193 had been returned as of Wednesday, she said.

Unofficial returns Tuesday showed 194 votes separated the top vote-getter, Democrat William M. Breichner, and the sixth-place finisher, Republican Forrest W. Easton, who logged 1,365 votes. Only six votes separated Easton from fifth-place finisher Democrat David A. Lidz, who had 1,371 votes.

The top five vote-getters will be declared the winners.

Other candidates who finished in the top five Tuesday were incumbent Democrat Lewis C. Metzner, 1,526; Unaffiliated candidate Ashley C. Haywood, 1,403; and incumbent Democrat Martin E. Brubaker, 1,388.

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Although Breichner and Metzner likely will retain their first- and second-place finishes, Kaetzel said, the order could change for Haywood, Brubaker, Lidz and Easton.

Easton and Lidz said Wednesday that regardless of who wins the election, Hagerstown will get a capable City Council.

"I feel pretty good that I ran a respectable campaign," Lidz said. "I feel that I worked myself beyond exhaustion and did the best I could."

Haywood said she believed that she finished in a strong position Tuesday.

"I'll believe that it's real after the absentee ballots are counted," said Haywood, who added that people have been stopping by her downtown business, Skyline Coffee Co., to wish her well.

"I appreciate the confidence that the voters showed in me regardless of how it turns out," Brubaker said.

The Board of Elections also will count 570 write-in ballots today from the City Council race, but they won't sway the results, Kaetzel said.

Also Tuesday, incumbent Republican Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II defeated Democrat David S. Gysberts by 1,647 to 1,166 votes, according to unofficial election results. In addition, a ballot question that asked residents whether they wanted to change the dates on which municipal elections are held passed by 2,451 to 462 votes.

Kaetzel said the results of Tuesday's election should be certified Thursday.

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