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Buehrer, Kinnaird win Thurmont board seats

Stephanie Mlot
Frederick News Post

(10/4) A landslide election ended Monday night with two new faces set to join the Board of Commissioners.

By 10:30 p.m., the election judges announced John Kinnaird and Bill Buehrer as the winners. They earned 653 votes and 527, respectively. Incumbent commissioners Bob Lookingbill had 182 votes and Glenn Muth finished with 142. A total of 1,507 votes were cast in Monday's town election.

"I'm surprised," Buehrer said just after the winners were announced.

Kinnaird said he was astounded by the final numbers but is grateful that the town residents voted Monday and expressed such a level of confidence in him and Buehrer.

A bonfire was all that was missing from the scene at Guardian Hose Co. Activities Building Monday night, when chilly candidates and residents drank hot chocolate and ate popcorn, awaiting the final election count.

The four candidates began their day at the East Main Street poll location began between 6 and 6:30 a.m., when they started waving to passing cars and waving signs urging residents to vote for them.

"Everybody's stopping and talking to us," candidate John Kinnaird said Monday afternoon.

The town took an old-fashioned approach to this year's election, reverting to paper ballots, a process Thurmont hasn't used in at least 22 years, according to Commissioner Wayne Hooper.

Hooper said that, according to the town's chief financial officer, the town didn't save much money with the paper process, versus the electronic machines used in most elections to record and calculate votes.

Once everything is counted, Hooper said, the employees' time, printing of ballots and construction of voting booths and collection boxes will cost about the same as the machines.

The new process yielded an excellent turnout and smooth voting process, according to election judges Carol Robertson and George Bolling.

By the end of the night, though tired, they said that the four appointed judges worked very efficiently together, counting more than 800 ballots.

Two check marks on one of those 818 ballots were made by first-time voter Nicole Williams, who turned 18 in February.

The small-town election may not have been everything the teenager had hoped for -- "I expected it to be more filled with people," she said. But accompanied by her sister and parents, Williams said she was excited to make her mark on the town. Still, she said she was disappointed that the election judges had run out of "I voted" stickers by the time she made it out to vote.

After the election results were announced, Buehrer said he was looking forward to the challenge ahead, and he thinks the new board will work well together.

"I've got a lot to learn," Buehrer said. "I need to be a sponge."

All four candidates plan to stay involved with town activities.

An avid supporter of the Thurmont Senior Center, Lookingbill said he has every intention of continuing to support the seniors, as well as the Thurmont Community Ambulance Service and Guardian Hose Co., both causes that Muth promotes.

"I'm part of the community, commissioner or not," Lookingbill said Monday afternoon while flashing a yellow-and-black "Vote for Lookingbill" sign on the street corner.

"I'll just be glad when it's over," he said of the election, which he said has been more of a circus this year.

Longtime commissioner Hooper has worked with four different mayors and many changing boards, but has learned that no matter who occupies the positions, they have to work together.

"I hope they work for the betterment of the town," said Hooper, who has been in office for 22 years.

After the final tally announcement, Hooper said he was "tickled to death" by the results, and thinks the town will see more respect and humility among the board.

The last voter of the day, Mayor Marty Burns, said that because everyone is different, whoever takes the commissioner seats will have their own perception of what the job entails.

What is unique about the process, he said, is that in a year from now, once the dust settles, the newcomers will find the path from perception to reality.

Giving credit to Commissioner Ron Terpko for his words of wisdom, Burns said that there is no manual on how to be an elected official. It's just a learning experience.

"I'm really looking forward to being on that side of the podium," Kinnaird said after the final vote was announced.

Lookingbill and Muth were not in attendance when the final vote was announced. The new commissioners will officially join the board during the first meeting in November.

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