Nearly a week after Election Night, provisional and absentee ballots re-elected Town Commissioners David Carey and Robert Preston over challenger Greg Adolph.
Final results announced Monday afternoon at Bel Air Town Hall included five absentee ballots and two provisional ballots. From those, Preston collected four votes and Carey gained six votes, while Adolph added none. Preston finished with 418 votes, Carey with 417 votes, and Adolph with 410.
Challengers Ricky Davis and Dave Mitchell picked up two votes each Monday, to give them 356 and 32 votes respectively. Steven Testerman, who dropped his campaign last month, finished with 11.
After Tuesday’s election, eight provisional ballots remained uncounted. The ballots are given to voters whose registration status is unclear, and are later verified by elections officials.
But six of the ballots were rejected; one voter could not be found in any state or local registration lists and five were found to be registered elsewhere, and did not meet the requirement to be registered in Bel Air 21 days before the election. The remaining two voters which were counted had been registered in the town but moved to a different address within town limits before the election.
Preston and Carey return to a board which will face serious budgetary issues this year. However, Preston said he will not seek another term as chairman of the five town commissioners, a position that carries the honorary title of “mayor.”
“It’s so time-consuming,” Preston said. “If asked to do it I would probably consider it, but it’s probably time to spend time with the family. It comes down to the time it takes…I’m looking forward to a bit of a break.”
Preston’s decision would seem to pave the way for Carey to take chairmanship over fellow commissioner Terry Hanley. Hanley supported Davis and Adolph’s candidacy, and their election would have created a majority bloc for him to take the position.
The commissioners, including Rob Reier and Ed Hopkins, will elect a chairman at their organizational meeting next Monday.
Carey and Hanley exchanged barbs throughout the election, and on Monday, Carey called the results a message to his fellow commissioner.
“I think what happened was Terry Hanley and his developer friends spent thousands of dollars to defeat Mr. Preston and myself, and it didn’t work,” Carey said.
Carey also rejected claims that he had brokered a deal to gain chairmanship, saying that he had only expressed interest in the position if Preston stepped down.
Hanley said Adolph and Davis’ defeat likely ends his hopes of becoming Bel Air’s “mayor.”
“I think we know how that works, majority rules,” he said. “With my support of the challengers, I don’t think I’m in line for that, let’s say.”
However, Hanley said he remains interested in seeking higher political office in next year’s countywide elections.
Preston spoke briefly with Adolph after the final results were announced, and both Preston and Carey said they would look to keep Adolph involved in town issues over the next few months.
Adolph said he has begun mulling participation in town commissions and increasing his volunteer activities, but said he hasn’t made any specific plans.
“Everyone can say hindsight is clearly 20/20, but I’m happy with the support I had,” he said. “I’m proud to have gone from five or six weeks ago being an unknown name to tying for the lead.”