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Incumbents on top in Commissioners primary

Fourth and fifth positions too close to call

September 14, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS

Experienced candidates seemed to come out on top in the Washington County Commissioners primary Tuesday, with both incumbent candidates, a former Williamsport councilman, a former school system administrator and a school board member among the apparent top GOP vote-getters.

The four Republicans with the most votes were John F. Barr, Terry Baker, Jeff Cline and Bill McKinley, according to complete but unofficial results.

Ruth Anne Callaham appeared to take the fifth spot with 4,899 votes, but Robin Lynne Wivell was not far behind with 4,632.

The official results will be determined once officials add in the votes from absentee and provisional ballots, which will be tallied later. Tuesday night's results included all precincts and early voting results.

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"There's enough absentee ballots to change the position that I have, so we'll be cautiously optimistic and just wait for those ballots to be counted," Callaham said Tuesday night.

There were 603 Republican absentee ballots issued, election board officials said. As of Tuesday night, 482 of those had been received, and more could be on the way. The postmark deadline was Tuesday. One tally of absentee ballots will be made Thursday and another Sept. 22, election board officials said.

There were 12 Republican candidates in the commissioners primary race. The top five will advance to the general election ballot, where they will face Democratic incumbent Kristin B. Aleshire and Green Party candidate Joe Lane in the Nov. 2 general election for the five commissioner seats.

Aleshire, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, had 4,945 votes, based on complete but unofficial results.

There was no primary for the Green Party.

Barr, Baker and Aleshire were the only three incumbents to run for re-election. Commissioner James F. Kercheval will become executive director of the Greater Hagerstown Committee and Commissioner William J. Wivell ran for state delegate, though he appeared Tuesday night to have lost that race.

Barr, 56, of Clear Spring, is running for his second term as a commissioner. He is owner and president of Ellsworth Electric.

Baker, 54, of Clear Spring, also is running for his second term as a commissioner. He previously served as Clear Spring assistant mayor and as a Clear Spring Town Council member. He works as a carpentry instructor at Washington County Technical High School.

Cline, 53, of Williamsport, served one term on the Williamsport Town Council before losing a bid for Williamsport mayor in 2009. He works as a Realtor.

"I'm humbled and very proud that so many people and volunteers supported me, and I hope I can live up to their faith in me," Cline said as the election results came in, adding that he wanted to thank all of the candidates who put their names on the ballot for their public service.

McKinley, 66, of the Williamsport area, is a retired educator and former Washington County Public Schools administrator. This is his first run for office.

"I think that my background helped me quite a bit," McKinley said of his apparent third-place finish in the primary. "I believe (because of) the fact that I was in the school system for so many years, I know so many people who are now voters."

Callaham, 60, of Hagerstown, currently is a member of the Washington County Board of Education. She is executive director of Food Resources Inc.

She said she was "humbled and honored" that so many people voted for her, but said the race ahead, if she is in fact in the top five, will be challenging.

"I think they're all good candidates, so the general election will be a tough row to hoe, to pick up one of those agricultural terms," Callaham said.

Wivell, 46, of Smithsburg, is a part-time facilities coordinator at Saint James School. She is married to the current Commissioner Wivell. This is her first run for office.

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