Election Returnzzzzzz

Dear Readers,

Oh, what a surprise! The recent Takoma Park city election, featuring only one contested seat out of seven, had a LOW TURNOUT! The only question, really, was how low it would be. Your Gilbert predicted 1050 votes, 1000 of them for Bruce Wiliams.

The actual vote was even lower – 931 votes cast for mayor, Williams taking 830 of them.

And, yes that’s a lot of throwaway write-in votes – 101 of them. We can conjecture that it means people were unhappy about the lack of choice, or unhappy with the only candidate. It is not clear. Only four write-ins specified something to the effect of “anyone else.” There were 21 votes for a last minute write-in candidate, Richard Joy. The rest were either smart-ass remarks (Ho Chi Minh, Tina Hudak Mickey Mouse) or honorific votes for admired community activists/politicians (Howard Kohn, Rick Weiss, Joy Austin-Lane). We can’t decide in which of those two categories the one vote for Gilbert falls.

This is how the mayoral race looked by ward. The heaviest vote was in Ward 3, where the one council seat race occured, and which usually has a high voter turnout.
For Mayor, Bruce R. Williams, Write-In Candidates

Ward 1: Williams – 230, Write-ins – 23
Ward 2: Williams – 133, Write-ins – 16
Ward 3: Williams – 276, Write-ins – 45,
Ward 4: Williams – 107, Write-ins – 5
Ward 5: Williams – 39, Write-ins – 10
Ward 6: Williams – 45, Write-ins – 2
Total: Williams – 830, Write-ins – 101

27 of these were absentee ballots, 26 votes for Williams, 1 for a write-in candidate.

What do the write-in votes tell us about the ward candidates? Five races were uncontested, so one would expect some protest or silly votes there, but the contested race garnered a high number of write-ins, 10. Perhaps some were underwhelmed with the candidate choice there.

The newcomer Briget Bowers got herself an impressive 31% of the vote. If the placement of candidate’s signs were any indication, Bowers stronghold was in the recently annexed Pinecrest section of Ward 3, a community that until a few years ago was not part of the city and was in Prince Georges County. This area has long showed a simmering resentment against the city, strongly backing anti-establishment candidates such as Terry Seamens in his mayoral run a few elections ago.

The highest number of council-race write-ins was in ward 2, represented by Colleen Clay. We wonder what that’s all about. Perhaps her council duties have caused her to neglect Girl School cookie distribution. She should spread some Thin Mints around to calm this potential voter rebellion. Your Gilbert would be a good place to start (actually, Samosas are our favorite). She did get the highest number of votes for a sitting ward representative (137), but ward 2 usually has a high voter turnout.

There were impressively high turnouts in uncontested elections in traditionally low-turnout wards. Ward 4 councilmember Terry Seamens got 117 and ward 6 councilmember Doug Barry got 45. Those are solid numbers considering that in 2003 when there were contested races in those wards, the total vote in ward 4 was 77 and the total vote in ward 6 was 187. This indicates high approval for those gentlemen, especially since there were only 2 write-in votes in each ward. Similarly, Rubin Snipper, who has only served for about a year got 49 votes (1 write-in).

We will be glad to see the new fellow in ward 1, Josh Wright, sworn in, just to stop him from jumping up from the audience during council meetings and commenting on various issues. It wears us out just watching all that eager expenditure of energy and we fear he will sprain something. He seems to be a smart guy and we look forward to his contributions.

Dan Robinson, the new ward 3 representative will undoubtedly have contributions to make as well, he comes with a reputation for innovation, so we anticipate some fresh ideas from him.
All this positivity is making Your Gilbert feel slightly ill, and in need of taking a break to go hang from our heels in the attic for a while.

Your Gilbert is a winner, too! We won Seth Grimes prediction contest, but there were only 4 other entries, so we don’t feel it is too brag-worthy. However, one of the other contestants was our new mayor, by the way.
Here is what Seth had to say:

“The winner of the Takoma Park 2007 election contest: Gilbert! Gilbert foresaw the low voter turnout, predicting 1050 ballots cast to the actual figure of 1007. Gilbert’s overall score, calculated as the sum of the differences between his predictions and the actuals, multiplied by 10 in the case of percentages, was 590. Second place was Seth (me) with a score of 946, then Bruce with 1091, then Terry with 1571, and Howard in distant last place with 1887.”
Below are the election results, as reported by the city.

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Ward 1 Council – Total (Precinct/Absentee)
Josh Wright 254 (249/5), Gilbert predicted 180
Write-In Candidates 8, (8/0), Gilbert predicted 2
Ward 2 Council – Total, (Precinct/Absentee)
Colleen Clay 137, (134/3), Gilbert predicted 150
Write-In Candidates 14, (14/0), Gilbert predicted 8
Ward 3 Council – Total (Precinct/Absentee)
Dan Robinson 235, (228/7), Gilbert predicted 370
Bridget Bowers 112, (104/8), Gilbert predicted 150
Write-In Candidates 10, (9/1) Gilbert predicted 15
Ward 4 Council – Total (Precinct/Absentee)
Terry Seamens 117, (111/6), Gilbert predicted 60
Write-In Candidates 2, (2/0), Gilbert predicted 2
Ward 5 Council – Total (Precinct/Absentee)
Rubin Snipper 50, (49/1), Gilbert predicted 40
Write-In Candidates 1, (1/0), Gilbert predicted 1
Ward 6 Council – Total (Precinct/Absentee)
Doug Barry 45, (45/0), Gilbert predicted 100
Write-In Candidates 2, (2/0), Gilbert predicted 2.

About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

5 Comments on "Election Returnzzzzzz"

  1. You note a tally of mayoral votes —
    Williams – 830
    Write-ins – 101
    Also noteworthy, given the 1007 ballots cast according to the city reporting, is
    No vote – 76

  2. Terry Seamens | November 19, 2007 at 2:08 pm |

    I’d bet the write-in voter supported Tina Hudak because of her community activism, not because the voter saw a similarity to Mickey Mouse.

  3. Oh, we thought Tina Hudak was a television personality. Perhaps she should consider a career as an entertainer. She has the name for it.

  4. Not Mickey, Minnie, please…I will get a big bow, too.

  5. Steve Davies | November 23, 2007 at 2:04 pm |

    One explanation for the (consistently) low turnout in Takoma Park is simple: People probably have no idea what ward they live in.
    There was no map printed in the city-published Takoma News election issue. I don’t think the Voice had one either.
    There is a very hazy map on the city web site http://www.takomaparkmd.gov/council/wardmap.html
    I printed out my ward, but it’s difficult to read.
    You’d think TP would want to do everything it could to make it easier for people to vote. But if you don’t even know what ward you’re in, it’s tough.
    In addition, how many people who have to take public transportation to work and/or live far from city hall, can really be expected to vote? I know there are absentee ballots, but most folks aren’t organized enough, or know enough about the process, to tackle that.
    BTW, I thought it was telling that (except for Ward 5, where only 49 people voted), the highest percentage (and biggest number) of write-ins for mayor came in Ward 3, our new mayor’s soon-to-be old ward. 45 out of 321 people (16.3 pct) elected not to vote for Bruce. It should also be said that Ward 3 supplied the most votes for Bruce, with 276 (33 pct of his vote total).
    There may be something fishy going on, however. In Ward 3, there were 45 write-ins for mayor. And in Ward 1, 45 people (the exact same number!) voted for Doug Barry.
    Coincidence, or circumstantial evidence of massive ballot fraud?
    I think the new mayor and council should make it their first order of business to appoint a committee of dedicated citizen (resident) volunteers to get to the bottom of what could be a burgeoning political scandal.

Comments are closed.