Which way the Frederick County Council will lean politically remains up in the air with three council seats in two races still too close to call.

As of Thursday afternoon, Kai Hagen (D) and Phil Dacey (R) are the two leaders in the council at-large race, with 43,002 and 42,781 votes respectively. Both would be elected if results hold.

Danny Farrar (R) is behind those two with 42,531 votes.

Frederick County Election Director Stuart Harvey said any candidate can ask for a recount of election results. If the gap is less than one-half of 1 percent, the recount is free, he added.

If it’s more than that, candidates must post a bond in court to have the recount completed. The cost of that is determined by the Board of Elections and how much work it would entail, Harvey said.

Farrar told The Frederick News-Post that he wouldn’t ask for a recount, unless it didn’t cost him any money.

“I don’t have money to throw at a recount. ... But if it’s something that’s so close, I would consider it,” Farrar said.

According to Harvey, 3,592 absentee ballots had been returned countywide as of Wednesday. Of those, 1,935 were from Democrats, 1,003 from Republicans and 654 from other voters.

Harvey said via email Thursday that canvassing and counting of absentee ballots should be completed by Friday afternoon. Those results, and the number of provisional ballots, should be available by then, he said.

According to a news release, the Board of Elections counted more than 2,800 absentee ballots on Thursday. The board estimates that over 5,000 absentee ballots will be counted in total.

Hagen said Wednesday he felt fairly confident in his chances, given a heavy Democratic edge in ballots not counted yet. He said there would have to be a “razor-sharp edge” for him to consider a recount.

“We know there are all kinds of serious problems with elections across the country,” Hagen said. “But those things are not true here. I have tremendous faith in the electoral laws and systems in Maryland and this county.”

Dacey said he was unsure of whether he would consider a recount. He said he’s waiting to see what the absentee and provisional ballots show.

Since it is likely Hagen will be elected and split the at-large vote with one of the two Republicans, the other race too close to call — District 1 — will likely determine whether the council has a Democratic or Republican majority.

That’s because — pending the canvassing of ballots and certification of the election — Republicans Steve McKay and Michael Blue were elected to districts 2 and 5, respectively. Democrats M.C. Keegan-Ayer and Jessica Fitzwater were re-elected to districts 3 and 4.

As of Thursday afternoon, Republican Kevin Grubb led District 1 incumbent Jerry Donald (D) by 57 votes. Grubb said Wednesday evening he didn’t know if he would ask for a recount.

Donald said Wednesday he would consider a recount.

“We’ll have to see when we get there. It would have to be extremely close,” he said, adding the less than .1 percent rule would make him lean toward doing so.

If the recount didn’t cost him any money, he probably would ask for one, he said.

Many candidates who were safely elected said Wednesday they’ll be watching the at-large and District 1 races closely to figure out which party will have the majority on the council.

A theme from candidates in both parties, however, is that this council should be able to work together better than the first County Council.

“My whole thing is it doesn’t really matter at the local level if you’re Republican or Democrat,” said Keegan-Ayer, the council’s current vice president. “People still want their recycling picked up and their first responders to be there when something bad happens.”

Blue, the incoming Republican councilman in District 5, said he also wants the new council to be more cooperative.

“I think too much emphasis is based on the fringes of the party. ... Once we’re set on that council, I think that needs to be secondary. ... I think the individuals that ran, they’re running for the right reasons,” he said.

The new County Council will first have to decide whom to name as the board’s president. Bud Otis, the current president, finished last in the at-large race, with about 7 percent of the vote as of Thursday afternoon.

Hagen, noting Keegan-Ayer’s experience as council vice president, said she would be a good choice.

Farrar said he would prefer a Republican member to serve, to act as a check and balance on Democratic County Executive Jan Gardner, who won re-election on Tuesday.

Both Keegan-Ayer and Blue, however, said the majority party shouldn’t automatically select one of its own to serve.

“It’s going to depend on what the council as a whole decides,” Keegan-Ayer said. “If they wish for me to serve, I’ll do it. ... But it’s a little premature, because we don’t know everyone who has been elected.”

Blue said: “I would really rather see the person that would be best suited for that position. I wouldn’t necessarily say they have to be Republican.”

All election results are unofficial until absentee ballots and provisional ballots are counted, and canvassing of all ballots occurs.

Follow Steve Bohnel on Twitter: @Steve_Bohnel.

Steve Bohnel is the county government reporter for the Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at sbohnel@newspost.com. He graduated from Temple University, with a journalism degree in May 2017, and is a die-hard Everton F.C. fan.

(32) comments

public-redux

Absentee votes have been counted and posted. Donald is now ahead by 200, Hagen by 1000. Looks like a Dem majority on the council and a super majority of reasonable people.

matts853

Absolutely. A full complement of reasonable, intelligent adults will soon be in charge. We do indeed have a "bright future" now.

mrnatural1

We voted for Kai Hagen and Susan Reeder Jesse, but from what I've read, Danny Farrar seems like a reasonable guy. I like the fact that -- unlike almost all other local politicians and candidates, Danny takes the time to post in the comment section below FNP articles.

I've seen how he interacts with people who post here who are sometimes clearly being trolls and trying to get a reaction out of him. Danny always remains level-headed and polite. That is a good quality for a politician to have.

We happen to be in District 1, and voted for Jerry Donald so naturally we're hoping he will prevail.

Regardless of who ultimately wins, with a few exceptions, we had many good choices in this election.


mrnatural1

Quote:

"“My whole thing is it doesn’t really matter at the local level if you’re Republican or Democrat,” said Keegan-Ayer, the council’s current vice president. “People still want their recycling picked up and their first responders to be there when something bad happens.”"

I agree, but would point out that historically -- with the notable exception of Lenny Thompson -- the republican members of the BoCC, and now county council, have been very pro-growth and developer friendly. Never met a bulldozer they didn't like.

That's not to say that all of the dems have been a lot better, but given the choice, people who are concerned about over-development and sprawl would almost always be better off voting for democratic candidates -- Kai Hagen, Jan Gardner, etc.

At least when it comes to allowing developers to destroy FredCo and our quality of life, political party does matter.

Robbbobb4863

let's hope our election officials are honest and not like Broward County Florida :)

KellyAlzan

Surprised no one had commented on the 1970's style $$adult$$ movie star beard!

DannyFarrar

Hahhaha that thing is awesome! Just needs a little more grey in it.

gorillagusto

Someone should tell Farrar the election is over, and the time for party politics is over. It's now time to get stuff done for this county. The CE and CC need to work together, not "check and balance" each other.

Having said that, I think Dacey should be the new president. It might force him to actually show up to meetings on time.

threecents

Probably Dacey if Grubb wins and MC if Donald pulls out another recount victory. (I have no doubt there will be a recount.)

DannyFarrar

My whole qoute isn't in there. I went on to say I expect it to Kai, and regardless we'd be fine. I always prefer opposing views in leadership roles. Group think leads to failure.

Comment deleted.
DannyFarrar

Perhaps. Perhaps it gained some. I learned a long time ago not to "what if" things to death. Strike out and try agian in the future.

hayduke2

Regardless of outcome, let's hope this council can work together and compromise so that the citizens of Frederick County are the ones who benefit. I am tired of the "I abstain" mentality or the partisan arguing while not address what is best.

richardlyons

[thumbup]

DickD

The candidates that are likely to be on the Council all appear to be fair. This looks like a better Council than previously, where we really needed Otis.

KellyAlzan

Dick, I’m thinking you and I should run as a duo in the next election.

DickD

If I won, would I have to serve? Nah, you go ahead and run!

mrnatural1

Dick,

If you won you could just periodically show up with a briefcase, a clipboard, and a serious/concerned look on your face. Randomly say things like, "I concur", and, "I dissent" Then go home and collect a paycheck! [smile]

Cowell

"According to Harvey, 3,592 absentee ballots had been returned countywide as of Wednesday. Of those, 1,935 were from Democrats, 1,003 from Republicans and 654 from other voters." This is going to come down to a very close count. I would not be surprised if Grubb holds on to district 1 and Dacey secures most votes at large. Flip a coin as to Kai or Farrar.

awteam2000

Why? 2 to 1 democratic voters. Those numbers favor Hagen and Donald.

richardlyons

[thumbup]Thought the same thing. Seems like Kai is in. Fight will be between empty suit Phil and Farrar. Only a portion (~20%) of the absentee ballots will be in District 1. So not sure how that breaks down by party in that district.

newspostreader

Can't assume that just because someone is Democrat or Republican, that he/she will vote that way. I'm a Dem that voted for Hogan. It can go either way.

richardlyons

Well of course for any given voter but overall it is a pretty good indicator. We will know shortly.

richardlyons

Well perhaps that is correct for an individual voter, but on a general level most Dems and Repubs vote for their parties candidates/ We'll know soon enough regardless.

KMRD1

Steve McKay for Council President

Mickey7

Good luck Kai!

richardlyons

Very enlightened position Mr. Blue. I'm impressed.

FrederickFan

"So close, yet so Farrar."

DannyFarrar

lol, Well played.

FrederickFan

[thumbup]

armillary

[thumbup]

richardlyons

I miss your Limericks [smile]

awteam2000

Me too.

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