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Bill Blakeslee and Glenn Muth win Commissioner Race

Vic Bradshaw
Frederick News Post

(10/30/03) Bill Blakeslee and Glenn Muth will help govern the town for the next four years.

Mr. Blakeslee and Mr. Muth led all candidates in the election to fill two seats on the townís board of commissioners. Frank Kurtz finished third in the race, and incumbent Kenneth Oland was fourth.

Thurmont voters also chose to accept three amendments to the town charter that were passed by the board in June. The controversial changes were placed on the ballot when enough valid signatures were collected on a referendum petition.

Mr. Blakeslee was the choice of 617 of the record 1,109 people who voted, while Mr. Muth collected 564 votes. Mr. Kurtz finished with 516 votes, and Mr. Oland totaled 479.

Mr. Blakeslee and Mr. Muth said they were grateful that they were the votersí choices.

"I appreciate the confidence the voters have shown in me," said Mr. Blakeslee, who was successful in his first attempt to gain elected office. "I think people in the town recognized that I had a background in youth and civic (activities)."

Mr. Muth thanked the people who supported him and worked on his campaign. Mr. Oland lost the seat he held for four years. The other seat being filled is held by Eddie Hobbs, who opted to leave the board after 19 years of service. Both current terms expire Oct. 31.

Mr. Kurtz, who was running his first campaign, and Mr. Oland each said he expected to earn a seat on the board. Mr. Oland said the outcome may have been affected by what he considered "badmouth" tactics by some opponents at the two election forums.

"I think I ran a fair and honest campaign even though I think some others didnít run fair and honest," he said.

In referendum voting, the amendment stating that the board alone has the power to suspend or terminate departments heads was accepted by a 561-474 margin.

The charter addition outlining a procedure for the approval of investigations of town officers or employees received 554 votes of approval and 479 votes against.

The amendment dealing with the hiring, removal and role of the town attorney was affirmed by 544 voters with 470 voting against.

Mr. Blakeslee said he thought the referendums were affirmed because voters had time to read them "in a calm, unemotional manner." When they did that, he said, they discovered that the changes were not offensive.

But Mr. Burns had a different opinion. He believed some voters were confused by the wording of the amendments.

"A lot of people donít know what they voted for," he contended. "Case in point, my son voted for one of them."

Though the results mean two incumbents who had voted in the majority on most controversial decisions in recent months will be out of office by weekís end, the voters didnít seem to send any clear messages. Mr. Blakeslee had aligned himself with Mr. Oland, while Mr. Muth and Mr. Kurtz had taken public stances supporting Mr. Burns and Mr. Terpko on some issues.

Commissioner Wayne Hooper, the lone remaining member of the three-man group that often voted together to form a majority, said the decision to elect a candidate on each side of the political fence provided no clear mandate for either faction.

Mr. Burns had similar thoughts.

"They didnít vote for one section of the board versus another section of the board," the mayor said. "They voted for who they thought was going to do the best job for the Town of Thurmont."

Mr. Burns and Mr. Terpko said they donít think the new board would vote in blocs like the current board has.

"The people sitting on the board are independent thinkers," Mr. Terpko said. "Theyíre going to make decisions based on whatís the best decision for the town ..."

Despite the rain that fell most of the day, 32.7 percent of Thurmontís 3,389 registered voters made their way to the Guardian Hose Co. Activity Building on Monday to decide the races.

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