Smith certified as Ward 5 special election winner in Takoma Park -- Gazette.Net


This story was corrected on July 23, 2012. An explanation follows the story.

Jarrett Smith was officially declared the winner of Tuesday’s Ward 5 special election at a Takoma Park City Council meeting on Wednesday.

In the first election to go to an instant runoff since Takoma Park instituted the system in 2006, Smith garnered 97 votes. Eric Hensal got 80 votes.

Third-place finisher Melinda Ulloa got 33 first-choice votes. Since Smith’s 84 first-choice votes were not a majority, the election went to the second round, where second-choice votes of Ulloa backers were added to Smith and Hensal’s totals. Hensal got 71 first-choice votes.

“I’m excited. I’m delighted that voters chose me to represent them,” Smith said. “I’m not waiting and seeing about anything. My learning curve will be much shorter than any other council member. There’s just so many things going on right now. There’s not going to be any time for me to lay back.”

The council must find a replacement for city manager Barbara Matthews, who on July 9 announced she will be taking Rockville’s city manager job in October. It also must help find a new police chief and weigh in on an expected decision on the Washington Adventist Hospital. The hospital, which is in Ward 5, is seeking a certificate of need from the Maryland Health Care Commission to relocate to White Oak.

Many residents viewed the special election to replace retired Councilman Reuben Snipper as needed engagement for a ward that has historically seen low voter turnouts and a lack of civic participation. There were 189 voters in Tuesday’s election, more than the 76 who re-elected an uncontested Snipper last fall, but fewer than typical turnout rates in the city’s other five wards. There are roughly 1,800 registered voters in the ward, according to election judge Jim Roberts. There are 2,569 residents in the ward, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

Smith will be sworn in July 23.

“I think the whole ward was very well served by the whole process,” Hensal said. “Certainly, I think people have had conversations who probably haven’t talked with each other for a while. That’s what’s important.”

An earlier version of this story misspelled Melinda Ulloa’s name.