|All but one incumbent
ousted in Queen Anne's
By HEATHER RAWLYK, Staff Writer
When the voters of Queen Anne's County aren't happy with their elected board of commissioners - Democrat or Republican - they show it.
Gene Ransom III, D-Grasonville, was the only incumbent to be re-elected to the five-member board, according to unofficial results of yesterday's general election. Incumbent Benjamin F. Cassell Jr, R-Stevensville, who represents Kent Island, was one of four Republicans to lose in an Eastern Shore area dominated by Republican voters.
The result is a reversal of the 2002 election, when five Democratic commissioners were swept out of office by an electorate angry over development. Mr. Ransom was the only Democrat elected to the board in that election. He beat Robert Foley yesterday to reclaim his seat in District 3, which includes the northern tip of Kent Island stretching to Grasonville.
The incumbent, who ran unopposed in the primary, won with nearly 64 percent, or 9,660 votes. Mr. Foley received about 36 percent, or 5,490 votes.
Mr. Cassell was ousted by Democrat Carol Fordonski in the race for the District 4 seat, which includes the area of Kent Island otherwise known as Bloody Point.
Mrs. Fordonski received 8,081 votes, or nearly 54 percent. Mr. Cassell received 6,894 votes, or 46 percent.
Mr. Cassell's loss comes days after questions arose concerning his resume, which stated he graduated from the University of Maryland and worked as an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin. Neither school had any record of Mr. Cassell.
Voters in Queen Anne's select candidates in four districts countywide, plus the president, who is in charge for the first year. In the final three years of the board's term, the president loses that authority and serves as the at-large member.
Mr. Ransom said he was looking forward to working with a new board of commissioners and that he was honored to be re-elected in a county known for having "disposable commissioners."
In the race for board president, Republican Eric Wargotz, of Queenstown, leads Democrat Jack Broderick, of Chester, by 95 votes. It's a tight race that will be decided by the 1,800 absentee ballots.
Mr. Wargotz received 7,680 votes, or about 50.29 percent. Mr. Broderick received 7,585 votes, or 49.67 percent.
Courtney Billups, of Ingleside, knocked out current President Joseph Cupani, R-Church Hill, in the race for District 1, the largest district that runs from the Kent County line to the Caroline County line,
Mr. Billups received 8,016 votes, or nearly 53 percent, while Mr. Cupani received 7,172 votes, or 47 percent.
In District 2, Democrat Paul Gunther, of Centreville, beat out Republican Kurt Babe, also of Centreville, with 8,023 votes, or 52.5 percent. Mr. Babe received 7,252 votes, or 47.46 percent, in the district that includes the center band of the county around Centreville.
It is apparent, Mr. Gunther said, that Queen Anne's County residents were ready for some changes.
"They obviously were not satisfied with the bickering and all the stuff going on," he said.
Mrs. Fordonski said she was excited to have so many Democrats on the board.
"Through campaigning we've grown to know one another - we have expertise in different areas and we're serious about doing something good with this county," she said.
The option for an elected school board received 12,359 votes, or nearly 85 percent, compared with the current appointment-method, which got 2,237 votes, or about 15 percent.
The referendum means the board will have five voting members - one from each of the four commissioner districts and one at-large. Board members will serve four-year terms that are staggered.
Additionally, there will be one nonvoting student member from each of the county's high schools. The student members will be juniors or seniors who are elected annually by their classmates.
The first set of school board members would be elected in the 2008 elections.
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