Ward 4 councilmember Jarrett Smith.



Jarrett Smith is the unofficial winner of Takoma Park’s Ward 5 special election. The preliminary counts are:

Smith: 97

Hensal: 80

These numbers do NOT include votes for the third candidate Melinda Ulloa. It’s complicated.

94 votes were needed to get a majority, according to a local election watcher – former councilmember Hank Prensky. In the first round the vote stood at 83 for Smith, 71 for Hensal, 32 for Ulloa. 1 write-in. Ballots included absentee votes.

Since neither Smith nor Hensal had the 94 vote majority, the city’s Instant Runoff Voting system kicked in for the first time. THIS WAS AN HISTORICAL MOMENT. WOO WOO!! The Ulloa ballots were re-counted, this time for the second choice votes. The additional votes confirmed Smith’s lead and gave him, barely, a majority.

Results are unofficial. The official numbers will be reported tomorrow evening at the city council chambers by chief election judge Anne Seargent.


Granolapark estimates Smith the winner by about 5 votes. On the runoff votes, that is  8 for Hensal, 13 for Smith. The rest were “exhausted,” a second choice not being apparent (or a write-in).

Ward 4 councilmember-elect (unofficially)  Jarrett Smith.


Smith ahead by 2. Counting continues.


No clear winner! Instant runoff counting triggered. Now recounting!

Melinda Ulloa, who came in third has been eliminated. The judges are going through her votes to glean those voter’s 2nd choices. Those votes added to the other candidate’s tallies will determine the winner.

Candidate Eric Hensal just walked into the auditorium and took a seat to observe.



Unclear ballot awarded to Eric Hensal.

Ballot box is empty. They are now counting.



We have a hanging chad moment! An unclear ballot! The entire posse of polling judges has been clustered around the ballot for about 5 minutes.

The questionable ballot.

The auditorium is filling up. Other councilmembers are here: Terry Seamens and Kay Daniels-Cohen.

Councilmembers Terry Seamens and Kay Daniels-Cohen.


Hensal pulling ahead by few votes as we near the bottom of the box.


As they get to the bottom of the second and last ballot box, it looks very close between Smith and Hensal. 52 for for Hensal and 51 for Smith.


A polling judge is taking each ballot out, reading aloud the candidate voted for, and another judge (Jeffery Noel-Nosbaum, himself a candidate in the most recent city election) is placing them in the appropriate piles. With the first of two boxes counted it is apparent that Melinda Ullao will be coming in third.

Candidate Jarrett Smith says the other candidates are watching the count on tv, but he prefers to be here in person.

Reading a ballot.

Placing ballot on the appropriate pile.


Counting has begun.

The ballots.

Chief Election Judge Anne Seargent shows the empty ballot box cover.


The ballot boxes have arrived. They were carried in by the polling judges and set down on the city council dais/stage. The throngs, all 7 of them including a city tv cameraman, and two preschoolers, are watching the “action.” Only one candidate, Jarrett Smith, is present.

Ballots carried into the city council room at the Takoma Park municipal building.

Ballot boxes on the city council dais – which is a stage when in use as a dais.


Ballots are en route to the municipal building. 187 votes cast, plus 3 provisional votes. A 15% voter turnout.


Poll officials reported around 80 votes cast, 7 of which are absentee votes.

Ward 5 candidates
Two of the three Ward 5 candidates, Eric Hensal and Jarrett Smith, taking a break from lounging in the shade during a lull in voting. The third candidate Melinda Ulloa, they said, was grabbing lunch elsewhere.

When the polls close at 8:00 PM, the ballots will be transferred to the municipal building/community center at the corner of Maple and Philadelphia Avenues. There they will be hand counted. Voters will be voting for their second and third choices. So if there is no clear majority, the city’s Instant Runnoff Voting (IRV) system will kick in. If it does, it will be the first time. Election geeks are praying for this to happen.

Ward 5 had a special election in January 2007. 203 votes were cast. Reuben Snipper won with 107 votes. Eric Hensal ran in that election as well. He garnered 72 votes. The third candidate Alexandra Quéré Barrionuevo got 23 Votes.  There was one write-in.

We hope to bring you this election’s unofficial results after polls close and votes are tallied. Official results will be released tomorrow July 18. All will be reported here.


Dear voters,

The polls are open! Go do that thing you do!

July 17 is the Ward 5 special election day. The election is to replace Takoma Park city councilmember Reuben Snipper who has left us for a far, far better place – Italy.

The place to vote is at Wilkinson Hall, 7600 Flower Avenue, at the Washington Adventist University.

View Map

Wilkinson Hall is on Flower Avenue at the corner of Division Street. It is on the same side of Flower as the big church (Sligo Adventist) at the corner of Flower and Carroll Avenues. It is the third building to the west of the church. It is next to the athletic field on the other side of Division Street. Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The city timed the campaign and the candidate forum to coincide with the annual Granolapark staff vacation. So we’re still changing out of our grass skirts and salving our sun-burn as we scramble to cover election day. Stay tuned for updates, Dear Readers!

There are three Ward 5 candidates: Eric Hensal, Jarrett Smith, and Melinda Ulloa. Ulloa does not appear to have a website.

You can read candidate statements and see their mug shots on the city’s website.

– Gilbert

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.

2 Comments on "GRANOLAPARK: Voting Day"

  1. Congratulations Jarrett, and Gilbert, THANK YOU for live blogging!

  2. And congratulations to Eric Hensal and Melinda Ulloa for stepping up to run for office. Not everyone is willing to risk the effort on behalf of their community. We hope they continue their civic involvement. We especially hope that Mr. Hensal promotes his idea of having a municipal electricity utility.

    – Gilbert

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