UPDATE: During a Thursday morning count of absentee ballots, Jim Miller gained six votes to John Correri’s five additional votes – meaning Miller will retain his Havre de Grace city council seat with a narrow 5-vote victory over former mayor Correri.
Original story below:
Havre de Grace city councilmen Bill Martin and Fred Cullum were the clear victors in Tuesday’s municipal election, but the identity of the third candidate who will join them in office remains in limbo.
By just four votes, city councilman Jim Miller is clinging to re-election, but former mayor John Correri is hoping to make up the difference and return to elected office by moving ahead of Miller once the 15 possible remaining ballots are counted.
Of the 8,094 registered voters in Havre de Grace, only 1,165 (14.39 percent) voted, according to the Harford County Board of Elections.
Here are the unofficial vote totals from Tuesday’s election:
Martin, who was a newcomer to politics when first elected two years ago, won re-election to his second term by a landslide – garnering nearly 250 votes more than the second-highest vote-getter and bringing in 26.39 percent of the total vote. Martin said he was running for re-election for one reason: “To help maintain our quality of life.”
“I believe there are certain standards and expectations of services that any good tax payer should come to expect for a return on their money,” Martin said in an interview prior to the elction.
After 14 prior years on the city council, Cullum was easily re-elected to his 8th term by roughly a 50-vote margin. Cullum said before the election he wanted to return to office because he thought his experience was needed.
“Having been there and done that for so many years I can prevent repeating some past mistakes,” he said.
Miller sought re-election to his third term on the city council and said he plans to stay involved in city goings-on, regardless of whether he can hold onto his seat.
“Win or lose I’ll still plan to attend the council meetings. I can still add my comments and suggestions during the citizens comment periods,” Miller said Wednesday morning.
Two years ago, Miller was top vote getter with 499 votes. This time he picked up five more votes, yet he may lose his seat.
“Every time you make a tough decision it upsets group of people. I chose what I thought was better for the tax payers, the group I represent. Every little group that you make mad is less votes. One just has to hope that the citizens that benefit are not apathetic and will come out and support you. By the total votes cast, unfortunately, a larger percentage are apathetic. Over the last two years I have heard a lot of complaints and grumbling. Many of whom don’t come out to vote,” he added.
Among the tough decisions Miller said had to be made just before the election was the proposed budget, which calls for 2-percent city employee cost of living adjustment, a 4-percent step increase, and a one-cent tax rate reduction.
“I went on record that I did not support either a COLA or Step increase for employees, and I know we can reduce the tax burden on our citizens more than a penny. I along with Councilman [Mitch] Shank think we can go deeper and get closer to a four-cent tax cut,” Miller said.
Correri, a longtime city councilman who has been out of office for several years, was looking to get back into city politics. Correri ascended to mayor when David Craig left after his own appointment to Harford County Executive. In the election to hold onto the position, Correri lost to current mayor Wayne Dougherty.
The question before the electorate was to determine whether or not a parcel of real property owned by the city should be sold to Harford County government. Voters voiced approval of the sale in a 985 to 157 vote.
The Harford County Board of Elections confirmed there are 9 absentee ballots; 7 have been returned and 1 is outstanding. The Board doesn’t expect the extra vote to come in and must wait for the 1 outstanding ballot for up to 10 days before counting, but will count as soon as it comes in. There were also 6 provisional ballots
Miller said he had heard the absentee ballots will be counted at 10 a.m. on Thursday. One of the absentee ballots had been sent to Texas and elections officials were waiting for it to be returned, Miller added.