SNOW HILL — Results for the 2014 primary election are unofficially in for the Worcester County Commissioners and the Board of Education. While at least two races are still too close to call, a few clear winners have emerged.
For the County Commission District 4, the race is down to a handful of votes. Republicans Ted Elder and Kathryn Danko-Lord were able to collect 206 and 203 votes, respectively. This represents 39.9 and 39.3 percent of the vote, respectively. They were both able to outpace fellow candidate Molly Hilligoss, who received 107 votes, or 20.7 percent, but the three-vote margin is too narrow to yield a decisive victory until absentee ballots are counted.
The scenario is much the same for District 5, where Republican Chip Bertino leads Grant Helvey 322 votes to 314, or 45.5 percent to 44.4 percent. Ray Unger came in third in the primary with 71 votes, or 10 percent. The eight-vote margin is again too close to call yet.
The only decisive primary in the commission race was between Republican incumbent Jim Bunting and former commissioner Linda Busick. Bunting was the clear winner, taking 499, or 62.8 percent of the vote, to Busick’s 295, or 37.2 percent. Bunting was understandably happy with the results but did admit he was surprised that he gave up a few votes he was expecting to cinch.
“It felt good to win and I’m so thankful for so many people that worked hard for me and the trust they put in me,” said the commissioner. “I was a little disappointed in one of the precincts. I thought I would do better. I won it but I thought I would do better. It’s humbled me a little bit.”
The support he received from the community was endearing however, Bunting added, and he is looking forward to returning to his seat since he is unopposed in the general election.
“It’s been an honor to serve the last four years and a privilege to serve another four. I’m glad that the public trusted me enough,” he said.
This is the second time that Bunting and Busick have run against each other. Busick is a former commissioner who lost to Bunting in 2010.
None of the other commission districts had primary elections, being either uncontested or contested by candidates of different parties.
The primary results for the Board of Eduation seats are clearer. They are non-partisan so two candidates for each of the available seats will advance to the general election in November. For District 4 that will be Bill Gordy and Scott Baker, taking 369 and 165 votes, or 40.6 percent and 18.2 percent, respectively. For District 7 it will be incumbent Bob Rothermel and Jeri Lyn Holston, at 457 and 175 votes, or 59.7 and 22.9 percent, respectively. In District 6 both candidates, Bob Hulburd and Eric Cropper, will automatically advance as they were the only two running.
“Certainly I am pleased with the results of the election and very appreciative of the support I received throughout the community,” said Rothermel. “Clearly it is an affirmation of the policies and procedures that have made Worcester County Public Schools the very best in the State of Maryland.”
Worth mentioning is that while primary elections in Worcester have traditionally seen weaker turnout than their general counterparts, this year was notably lower than usual. In Worcester, voter turnout was 20.21% with 6,424 voting out of 31,792 eligible.
“The turnout was very, very abysmal. I was very shocked,” said Bunting.
All of the commission candidates were “shocked at the turnout,” he continued. The reason for the low number of votes is unknown, though Bunting believes it could be something as arbitrary as the area experiencing nice weather during the election.
“Some people probably just forgot that it was a primary day,” he said.