Two familiar faces and one incumbent were elected to Mount Airy’s town council Monday night.
Pamela Reed, Karl Munder and incumbent Jason Poirier ran for the three available seats on the council, two of which were vacated by longtime council members Peter Helt and Bob King. The election was contested until Friday when former candidate John Stuehmeier withdrew his name because he will be moving outside of the town limits in the summer.
Poirier received 290 votes, Reed 306 votes and Munder 301 votes. There were 11 write-in votes for Helt and five for Scott Sirchio, who sits on the planning commission and ran in the special election last year.
Both Munder and Reed said they were happy to be elected to the council, with Reed saying she was overwhelmed, emotional and excited to relax after the campaign.
It was a good race, Munder said, calling it a “great contest and a great day.”
“I’m happy to serve the town and start working,” he said.
Although the election was uncontested Monday, all candidates were outside of the Mount Airy Fireman’s Reception Hall electioneering. But even though there were only three candidates, all were hesitant to say they won the election without seeing the final votes, in case of write-ins.
“It’s not over until it’s over,” Reed said.
Reed currently serves as the president of Mount Airy Main Street Association, a position she is not sure if she will vacate once her council tenure begins in the middle of the month. She lives on Main Street right now, and once her tenure starts, she’ll be able to bring that perspective to the board. She’s interested in the businesses downtown and the accessibility to the area. Sidewalk issues were raised during the vision plan presentation.
All candidates said they were focused on the Center Street connection to Md. 27 (Ridge Road), a part of the downtown vision plan. Reed said she also prioritizes connecting a gas line to Main Street, the small businesses and helping Main Street become a center of entertainment.
Munder said in addition to Center Street, his top issues will be the Flat Iron Building and the rate of development. Council terms run for four years, so he will also be part of the process for writing the Mount Airy Master Plan.
In between getting elected and swearing in, Munder plans to get caught up on the current issues. He calls himself the “most incumbent non-incumbent” because while he does not sit on the council, he regularly attends council and planning commission meetings. He also sits on the Parks and Recreation Commission.
He’ll be switching roles from the person always asking questions at meetings to the person who listens and could have the answer. He plans to “listen even more” once elected, he said.
Poirier was the only incumbent to run this year and will be elected to his second term. With Helt and King vacating their seats, Poirier will be the most senior councilman. He said he was excited to serve a second term.
Serving a second term allows him to have some say on decisions and priorities that took a backseat while the town focused on creating a downtown vision plan. He said that he is focused on the small residential growth opportunities, a permanent location for the Mount Airy Police Department and making sure processes from the vision plan are completed.
The council will be young in terms of council members’ time on the council. Councilman Larry Hushour is in the second year of his four-year term. Councilwoman Patty Washabaugh is in her first.
Change is inevitable, Poirier said, and he expects the new council members will bring new ideas. He said if change needs to happen, he wants it to. He does not want to be handcuffed by the ways things were done in the past with former councils.
He thanked Reed and Munder for running for election during Monday’s town council meeting.
By 2 p.m., 277 people in the town of approximately 9,300 residents voted in the election, said Bruce Walz, chairman of the board of elections. Turnout was down compared to previous years, he said.
“But we’re surprised by the turnout since it’s technically an uncontested election,” he said.
A total of 404 residents voted, Walz said at the Monday council meeting, which accounts for about 5.9 percent of the eligible voters in the town limits. There were 46 different write-ins, with people voting for everything from Mickey Mouse to “Don’t Put Apartments Downtown,” Walz said.
The town used provisional ballots for the first time, but none were used in the election, Walz said.
Another first in the election was someone dropping out days before the election. Stuehmeier first publicly announced his decision on Facebook, Walz said. The town then asked him to formally withdraw from the election.
In his statement to the town, Stuehmeier said he withdrew due to moving out of the town in June. If he was elected, he would have had to vacate his seat, causing the town to hold a special election.
The board of elections will be meeting to discuss how to handle last minute withdrawals in the future, Walz said.