NEW WINDSOR — In what one candidate termed a vote of confidence for the Town Council, the three incumbents in yesterday's election were handily returned to office.
"This is a real vote of confidence in the council," said Everett R. Ecker Sr., 66, who received 158 votes.
The top vote-getter, Ecker will begin his second four-year term on the council. "I guess the voters really wanted me."
Turnout in yesterday's election was slightly lower than it was two years ago, as 175 of the town's 315 registered voters showed up at the polls.
The other top vote-getters in the field of five were Terry Petry, with 119 votes, and four-term councilman D. Kenneth Grimes, with 113.
"I didn't spend any money, I know most of the people anyway," Grimes, 76, said last night. He vowed that his fifth term will be his last.
The youngest member of the council also was pleased with the election results.
"I feel great, it's great to be elected rather than appointed," said the 36-year-old Petry, who vowed to keep an eye on increasing development in town.
Former Police Chief Charles W. "Tooter" Fritz, 72, placed fourth in the race with 62 votes, while Roy A. Johnson, 62, received 47 votes. Two write-in candidates -- Neal C. Roop and Doris Strawsburg -- each garnered one vote.
Fritz declined to comment on the election; Strawsburg, the wife of one-time Town Council President Roland C. Strawsburg, could not be reached for comment.
Yesterday's turnout of 55 percent is lower than the last election's but higher than the one that swept Ecker into office four years ago.
Most of yesterday's turnout was in the final hour of voting, said Resident Trooper Phil Henry. Polls were open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Results were tallied before 9 p.m.
In the 1989 race that elevated former Councilman James C. Carlisle to mayor, 270 -- 82 percent -- of the town's nearly 300 registered voters came to the polls.
In the 1987 race, Ecker and Grimes were re-elected to Town
Council as 115 of the town's 260 registered voters -- 44 percent -- went to the polls.
The third incumbent, who won his first election last night,was appointed to fill the term of Albert M. Benedict. Benedict, who also was elected in 1987, resigned in 1989.
Growth was once again the primary issue here, as the Town Council in coming months will grapple with final approvals for two housing developments.
Those developments could add hundreds of homes -- and hundreds of people -- to this town of 842 citizens, as well as put a strain on the town's increasingly inadequate sewage treatment plant.
In addition to more residents, the developments will bring an in
crease in the tax base.
However, unlike in other municipalities across the county and throughout the state, New Windsor is not in the throes of a financial crisis.
The fiscal 1992 budget -- which takes effect July 1 -- was passed earlier this month, keeping the town's relatively low tax rate of 45 cents per $100 of assessed valuation intact.
All three winners said last night that they plan few changes in town policy.
"I don't plan any changes in policy," Ecker said.
"Whatever comes up, the council will face it and do what's best for the town."
Carlisle will swear in Ecker, Petry and Grimes at the June 5 council meeting.