Election not quite over

In Columbia voting, Hickory Ridge falls short of turnout needed to validate outcome

April 26, 2006|By TYRONE RICHARDSON | TYRONE RICHARDSON,SUN REPORTER

This year's election season for the open Columbia Council seats and for the planned community's village boards was supposed to have been winding down after Saturday's balloting. But the closing of the polls merely extended the drama for Hickory Ridge village.

For the second time in its history, the village fell short of the number of voters required to validate its election.

"We didn't have a contested race for council, and that usually involves more campaigning," said Jane Parrish, village manager for Hickory Ridge. "We did have a race for village board, but I did not see campaigning for that."

Between the dearth of candidates campaigning and Saturday's rain, only 213 voters showed up at the polls, 120 shy of the number needed to make the election official.

In 2003, rain was blamed for the village's low voter turnout, which forced a special meeting during which the candidates were appointed to the open seats.

Seven candidates are seeking the five open seats on the village board, and incumbent Columbia Council representative Miles Coff- man is unopposed.

On Monday evening, the village will hold a second polling session for residents who did not vote Saturday.

After the voting, a meeting will declare the winners.

The four other villages that require a certain proportion of their population to vote for their elections to be valid did not report voter shortages.

Elections in Town Center, which were delayed a week, will be held Saturday.

Owen Brown did not have elections this year.

There was plenty of interest in Wilde Lake's election for its Columbia Council seat.

The position was contested by two longtime residents with roots in local politics and similar ideas for the future development of Columbia's downtown - Philip Kirsch, a retired federal worker and chairman of the Wilde Lake Village Board, and William Santos, an engineer and vice chairman of the Wilde Lake Village Board.

"Going into it, I thought it would be close," Santos said.

200 to 166

He was right, but on the losing end, 200 to 166.

"I feel good," said Kirsch, about the victory. "I had a strong opponent that was endorsed by the previous councilman [Joshua Feldmark]."

Santos said he will stay active in Columbia politics.

"I want to remain active in the community from a resident standpoint," Santos said. "I plan to get involved with some organizations in Wilde Lake and certainly when there is a downtown planning meeting."

The race wasn't as tense for the Columbia Council seat in Harper's Choice.

Cynthia Coyle, a retired Navy commander and vice chairwoman of the Harper's Choice Village Board, defeated David Willemain, an engineer, 264 to 126.

`Right direction'

"It boosts my belief that I am doing the right thing and I'm in the right direction," Coyle said.

Willemain said he was disappointed and unsure about his political future.

"I really don't have any plans," he said. "I know that some people will hope I stay involved in some fashion, but we will see what happens."

Coyle and Kirsch - filling the seats of incumbents Wolfger Schneider of Harper's Choice and Joshua Feldmark of Wilde Lake, who decided not to seek re-election - will begin their tenure on the Columbia Council next month, along with uncontested incumbents Barbara L. Russell of Oakland Mills and Pearl Atkinson-Stewart of Owen Brown.

Also next month, the elected council representatives will appoint themselves to the board of directors for Columbia Association, the policymaking body for the planned community that meets twice a month and is responsible for approving the budget and hiring the president of the association.

Coyle said she plans to take her tenure on the panel at a slow pace so she can understand how things work.

"I have to learn to listen and absorb the information, and once I get all that, then we can start," she said. "It's crucial when you're trying to implement good oversight."

Campaign ideas

Kirsch said he will move forward with ideas he pushed while campaigning for the seat, such as the development of Town Center and improving the relationship between the association and the villages.

"I don't plan on any revolution or anything like that," Kirsch said. "I will look for opportunities to push my areas of interest."

tyrone.richardson@baltsun.com

Results

The Columbia Council and village board election results:

(* denotes incumbent)

Dorsey's Search

Columbia Council - no election Village board - (four candidates for four seats) *Diane Turner - 37 *Larry Winston - 35 Greg Pelesh - 34 *Brian Cuthie - 30

Harper's Choice

Columbia Council (two candidate for one seat) Cynthia Coyle - 264 David Willemain - 126 Village board - no election

Hickory Ridge

(No winners announced until the May 1 extended polling; a village board meeting will validate results). Columbia Council - *Miles Coffman, (uncontested) Village Board - (seven candidates for five seats) Dawn Ashburn George Bendor *Linda Hitzelberger *Tom Louden *Nancy McCord *Gregg Schwind *David Zeitzer

Kings Contrivance

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