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Rosensteel, Sweeney get top votes in poorly attended election

Ingrid Mezo

Emmitsburg voters chose to go back to the way things were a few years ago on Tuesday. About 23 percent of eligible voters went to the polls and elected former commissioners Joyce Rosensteel and Clifford Sweeney to the town’s board.

Two seats were available in this election — one was to fill Commissioner Art Elder’s seat, whose term was up, the other was created when town officials voted on Jan. 18 to add a fifth commissioner to the town’s board.

Compared to elections past, far fewer voters turned out at the polls on Tuesday. In the 2005 election, 537 voters cast ballots — close to double the number of voters this year.

Joyce Rosensteel nervously awaited election results at the American Legion in Emmitsburg Tuesday night, along with her husband and a handful of supporters.

‘‘I’m feeling a little bit tense," Rosensteel said. ‘‘This is my third time around running for election, and of course last time, I lost by [15] votes ... I said the rosary going down the road twice and tried not to worry about it."

While she waited for the results to come in, Rosensteel talked about her plans for the town’s future.

‘‘We are at a very vulnerable area right now," she said. ‘‘We need our bypass, we need controlled growth and we need our own high school. This little town wasn’t generated to control growth, so maybe we’d better push it. I’ve gotten to be friends with the governor, and I kind of put bugs where they should be."

Upon hearing that the she and Sweeney had won, at about 10 p.m., when Mayor James Hoover and Commissioner Glenn Blanchard came to bring the news, Rosensteel was so elated she doled out hugs to everyone in the room.

‘‘I am very happy with the results," Hoover said. ‘‘I think with Cliff and Joyce back in there it will take the town back to the basics of town government."

Elsewhere downtown, at the Ott House and the Main Street Grill, not a single customer had voted in the election or was talking about it prior to the release of the results.

Emmitsburg resident Ernie Gelwicks, who was at the American Legion Tuesday night, said no one was at the polls when he voted at 6 p.m.

‘‘We need to make some changes in town, and we need qualified people," Gelwicks said. ‘‘Traffic [is the biggest issue in town.]"

Catherine Forrence, the third candidate on the ballot, said she was disappointed in the results during a phone interview Wednesday.

‘‘I feel like I’ve been doing a lot for the community," she said. ‘‘I wanted to give Emmitsburg a choice. There was clearly voter apathy there, and I just don’t get it."

Forrence said she had hoped to work on completing the town’s growth control ordinance and rewriting other town ordinances to allow for environmentally friendly practices during development.

In addition, she said she had made contacts with the State Highway Administration and had hoped to push for a bypass, had she been elected.

She said she would continue to work with the New Forest Society, an organization dedicated to protecting natural resources in northern Frederick County, and to focus on development issues countywide.

‘‘I will not run again in the near future," she said.

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