Aberdeen Mayor Mike Bennett eked out a tougher-than-expected win against challenger Patrick McGrady to earn a third term as city mayor by just a handful of votes in the Tuesday’s municipal election.
In Bel Air, Town Commissioner Terry Hanley, mired in legal trouble throughout his campaign, lost his re-election bid in the town’s election and will be replaced on the Board of Town Commissioners by challenger Susan Burdette.
By just 26 votes, the incumbent Bennett staved off the furious campaign of opponent McGrady to retain his mayor’s seat. While absentee and provisional ballots remain to be counted in Aberdeen, there are not enough remaining to change the outcome of Tuesday’s election.
Celebrating in a city hotel Tuesday night, Bennett was elated with his victory, but said this election in particular was more challenging than either of his previous two mayoral victories.
“It’s never old hat when someone’s playing with your reputation and talking smack, as it were. It’s never easy to take,” he said.
Bennett, who endured and emerged victorious in hotly-contested races against former mayor S. Fred Simmons and former city council president Mike Hiob, said this was “probably the nastiest campaign I’ve had to endure.” Specifically, Bennett mentioned that McGrady’s campaign had distributed “mailers filled with half-truths and out and out lies.”
Calling the campaign “very disheartening,” Bennett said he won’t stoop to his opponents’ level, but also won’t sit back and take similar attacks, should they come during a future election.
As for his win, Bennett said it’s affirmation that the citizens of Aberdeen are happy with how the city has been governed during the last two years.
“The majority of folks are happy with the job we’re doing and we’ll continue to do that job,” he added.
The mayoral race was the lone contested race on the Aberdeen ballot. The four incumbent city council members – Bruce Garner, Ruth Elliott, Sandy Landbeck, and Ruth Ann Young – were unopposed in their re-election bids and will return for another four years on the city council
“I’m very happy to continue to work with them and move the city forward,” Bennett said. “You’re going to see some really good things out of Aberdeen the next four years,” Bennett predicted.
Michael E. Bennett – 764
Patrick L. McGrady – 738
In Bel Air:
Hanley was in Cecil County District Court last week to request a jury trial on a charge of theft, and damage to his image appeared to take a hit as the eight-year incumbent town commissioner finished last out of five candidates on the ballot.
“I’m happy for Susan, she’s a great lady,” Hanley said. “It’s like athletics, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”
Incumbent town commissioners Eddie Hopkins and Rob Reier were both successful in their re-election bids. Reier led all candidates with 463 votes, followed by Hopkins with 422 and Burdette with 368. Burdette finished 56 votes ahead of fourth place candidate Greg Adolph, who garnered 312 votes.
With only 8 absentee and 5 provisional ballots left to be counted, the final 13 votes will not make a difference in the outcome of the election.
Of the roughly 6,100 registered voters in Bel Air, 694 voted in Tuesday’s election.
Bel Air Results:
FOR TOWN COMMISSIONER (top 3)
Brian “Gregory” G. Adolph – 312
Susan U. Burdette – 368
Terence O. Hanley – 206
Harry “Eddie” E. Hopkins III – 422
Robert “Rob” J. Reier – 463
“I’m just thrilled, every candidate I worked with was very supportive,” Burdette said. “I’m anxious to start serving the town of Bel Air.”
Burdette, whose husband Steve served as a town commissioner for more than a decade, said she hoped to raise Bel Air’s profile throughout the region.
“One thing I want to do is be an ambassador for Bel Air, and represent the town at county events and events in other counties,” she said.
Adolph came within seven votes of unseating Commissioner Chairman Dave Carey in the 2009 election, but fell further behind the pack this time around. However, Hopkins said the commissioners may try to bring Adolph onto a town committee or find another role for him.
“He comes from a generation of people that we’re preparing Bel Air for,” Hopkins said.
Reier said he believed Burdette would add balance to the board, but said Hanley’s service was appreciated.
“You certainly have to applaud it,” he said. “People don’t realize that, eight years, the time it takes, you have to recognize that.”
Hopkins added that he hoped Hanley would stay involved with the town in some capacity.
“I personally would like to see Terry stay involved, I think he has a lot to offer,” he said.
Hanley said he looked forward to spending some “great, quality time” with his family, and said that he had “too much going on” to consider running for public office at this point.
“It’s just a chapter I’m going through,” he said.