UNION BRIDGE — Forgive town officials if they are not well-versed in ushering in a new mayor.
They've only done so twice in the past 35 years.
In yesterday's election, Perry L. Jones Jr., a 10-year council member, topped council colleague Scott W. Davis by a 137-126 margin. Former mayor Richard L. Stultz received one write-in vote.
In the race for two open council seats, incumbents Jeffrey Six and Bret D. Grossnickle were returned to the council, while challenger Edgar C. Wentz came up short.
The final vote totals for the council race were: Six, 216; Grossnickle, 190; Wentz, 98. One write-in vote was cast forJohn W. Gartrell.
"I knew it would be a close race," said Jones, 39, who town officials said is the town's first black mayor. "I'm just happy."
Of the town's 455 registered voters, 266 -- or 56.7 percent -- cast ballots yesterday.
In 1989, the town's last election, 150 of the 273 registered voters turned out, or 54.9 percent.
"They always say everything happens for the best," Davis, 62,said. "I wish Perry all the luck in the world, but it was a hard-fought battle."
Jones succeeds Edward L. Williar, who has been mayor since 1952, with the exception of one four-year stint -- from 1971-1975 -- when Stultz was elected. That's the longest tour of duty by any mayor in Carroll.
"I have had this job for a long time," Williar said in February when he announced his intent to retire.
"It's really time for someone else to take over," said the 76-year-old lifelong Union Bridge resident.
Before becoming mayor, Williar served one term on the council.
Six and Grossnickle won second terms.
"I'm just thankful I got it," Six said last night. "I'll try to do what I can for thebest of the town."
In the months leading up to the election, the candidates agreed that the primary issue facing the town is the proposed annexation of the 171-acre Phillips property, south of town.
After nearly two years of grappling with the issue, the town's Planning and Zoning Commission recently recommended annexation of the land, which, when developed, could triple the present population of 966.
Both Jones and Davis said they favor the annexation.
The site also could provide the one-well town with a much-needed new water source, Davis said.
The rise in turnout is attributed to the new "universal" voter registration procedure. Voters who register for county elections automatically are signed up for the town election.
The presence of a mayoral contest on the ticket also boosted turnout, town officials said.
"We were electing a mayor this year, which we haven't done in 35 years," said Charles W. Hahn, the town's supervisor of elections.
Davis still will have two years of his council term to serve. A replacement will be selected to fill the council seat left vacant by Jones, who said he's not sure who he will recommend to the councilas his replacement.
A self-employed mechanic in the town, Jones is serving his third term on the council. He has been its president since 1987.
Davis first gained election to the council in 1989.He ran unsuccessfully for county commissioner last fall. A former police chief here, Davis recently retired from Lehigh Portland Cement Co. He said he could devote most of his time to the town.
The new mayor will travel to Westminster to be sworn in by Circuit Court ClerkLarry Shipley. Then, at the council's June 24 session, the mayor will swear in the new councilmen.
UNION BRIDGE ELECTION RESULTS
Mayor(elect 1)..... Votes..... Council (elect 2)..... Votes
Scott W. Davis..... ..... 126 .......John Gartell* ............1
* Perry L. Jones Jr...... 137 .......* Bret D. Grossnickle...190
Richard L. Stulz*.... ... ..1 .......* Jeffrey M. Six........216
* denotes write-ins.. ... .... ..... Edgar C. Wentz...........98