CHESTERTOWN — Campaigning on a platform of looking ahead, Tom Herz won a resounding victory in Tuesday’s election for the Second Ward council seat.
He took in nearly three times as many votes as incumbent Linda Kuiper, 164-56, assuring that the Chestertown council will have two new members in 2020.
Meghan Efland will be sworn in with Herz at the first meeting of the new year. She ran unchallenged in the Fourth Ward, where Marty Stetson is retiring after three terms.
Efland received 41 of the 42 votes cast in her ward. Only 6.2 percent of the 676 eligible voters went to the polls.
The turnout in the Second Ward was a robust 35.8%, 219 of a possible 611 voters.
Nine absentee ballots and two provisional ballots were to be counted at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Town Clerk Jennifer Mulligan said there was a steady flow of voters to the polls at the Chestertown firehouse, which opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 8 p.m. By 9 a.m. about 50 people had voted. The last voter, Peter Bourne of the Second Ward, marked his ballot at 7:40 p.m.
By 8:10 p.m., the election results were known.
None of the candidates were at the firehouse when Mulligan read out the numbers, and Herz and Kuiper were unavailable by phone Tuesday night.
In an email Wednesday morning, Herz thanked his supporters and thanked Kuiper for running a “clean issue-oriented campaign.” He said he was grateful for Kuiper’s eight years of service and stewardship of “our town.”
When asked what about his message resonated with voters, Herz said in the email: “I think they came out in large numbers because we’re collectively tired of staring at our navels and ready to straighten our backs up to do the hard work to get this town back on the right track. I’m so grateful to have a leadership role in that process.”
“I think my passion for supporting our downtown businesses, long-term economic development and preserving what makes our town and county great carried the day,” he added.
Herz listed communicating with residents, the budget and the future of the town’s police force as priorities.
“There are so any great things happening in our town government. We do a poor job of getting that word out,” Herz wrote in Wednesday’s email.
While the future of the Chestertown Police Department is not expected to come before the council until the end of February, Herz said he will be meeting before that with Lt. John Dolgos, the acting chief, Kent County Sheriff John Price, State’s Attorney Bryan DiGregory and Mayor Chris Cerino — among many others — “to completely understand the pro’s and con’s of the options available to us to save our town money and right our financial ship.”
Herz said he would attend the Wednesday, Nov. 13 (5 p.m.) workshop of the mayor and council to go over the first quarter budget results for Fiscal Year 2020. The workshop is open to the public, but the public cannot participate.
Efland also is expected to attend.
Herz said he intends to attend all council meetings leading up to his swearing-in Jan. 6. He did not attend Monday’s council meeting.
A job with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. has him working full time in Washington, D.C. “I am transitioning to a remote position in the coming months and will be full time in Ctown once installed on the council,” he said in the email.
In an email Wednesday, Kuiper thanked her constituents for allowing her to serve them for eight years. She said she has no plans to make another election bid, but would continue her volunteer work with the Tea Party Festival, the Kent County Historical Society’s Bordley History Center and the farmers market — among other organizations.
When asked to assess her two terms, Kuiper said she was pleased to have been able to balance work, family and the responsibilities of being a public servant. No one accomplishment was more important than another, she said.
“My priority was to assure the residents and businesses of Ward 2 knew they could count on me to represent them and act quickly to address their issues and concerns,” she wrote in an email the morning after the election.
Quoting one of her constituents, she said she “showed up.”
Kuiper said she had no advice for Herz, but hoped that he would make it a priority to give back to the community.
“I gave back the taxpayers dollars I received for serving on the Council by donating those dollars to the service organizations and nonprofits in Chestertown and Kent County. I hope those organizations can count on Mr. Herz to do the same and continue to promote the need for donations in the Farmers’ Market gofundme account so the Town gives back $2,000.00 in matching money,” she said in the email.
For his part, Herz said he hopes to work with Kuiper “to have a good, seamless hand-off of Ward 2 constituent services and get her advice about how to make the farmers market an even greater asset to our downtown.”
Chestertown’s council meets the first and third Mondays of the month, beginning at 7:30 p.m. In the new year, Herz and Efland will join David Foster (First Ward), Ellsworth Tolliver (Third Ward) and Mayor Chris Cerino.