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Ready for a new term: Shepherdstown Municipal Election results revealed

By Staff | Jul 24, 2020

The Corporation of Shepherdstown's Town Hall was the base for the Municipal Election on Tuesday. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The Corporation of Shepherdstown’s Municipal Election concluded Tuesday evening, after a busy day of voting.

For Town Recorder Lori Robertson, the day was a long one, beginning with opening Town Hall at 5 a.m., to prepare the election area for the arrival of the election workers at 5:30 a.m. One hour later, at 6:30 a.m., the polls opened, with election worker Gabe Leyshon walking out the front doors of Town Hall to publicly announce the opening of the polls for the Municipal Election.

“Once we set everything up in there, one of the election workers is required to go outside and yell, ‘The polls are ready!'” Robertson said in front of Town Hall on Tuesday afternoon, mentioning the first person to vote that morning was herself. “Because no one is usually ready to vote when the doors open, I usually am the first person to vote on election day.”

According to Robertson, the participation in this year’s election was much higher than in the previous election, with over 200 voters participating. In 2018, 45 voters participated in the uncontested Municipal Election.

“I think it’s because it’s a contested race,” Robertson said, referring to the seven candidates vying for five Town Council seats and two candidates vying for the position of mayor.

Along with the the number of candidates competing in this election, Robertson said there was one other contributing factor to the increased election involvement.

“I think people are interested in politics this year, with the national election going on, as well,” Robertson said. “People are paying attention more — that’s always good! You need to pay attention to what your government’s doing, at the local, county, state and national levels.”

According to Robertson, a large number of voters used absentee and early voter ballots, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Concern over the pandemic also led a couple of the town’s original poll workers to back out of manning the election. However, Robertson said that on Tuesday, the official election day, the final set of election workers did their best to maintain social distancing guidelines. Shepherdstown residents Molly Kramer, Gail McMillion and Leyshon manned the polls with Town Billing Clerk Crystal Painter. The town also brought in alternate election worker Lillian Potter-Saum, of Shepherdstown, to sanitize the frequently touched surface in the election area between voters. All of the poll workers wore their own masks or face shields donated by Shepherd University. The town also provided free masks for voters to wear inside of Town Hall, if they didn’t bring their own masks. Only two voters were allowed in the election room at one time, and blue tape marked six feet spaces on the ground, both outside and inside of the building.

“We’re taking such good precautions, I think everybody’s been very comfortable,” Robertson said. “Nobody has said, ‘I’m uncomfortable with this’ or anything along those lines.”

The polls closed at 7:30 p.m., followed by the counting of the ballots, which took over four hours to complete. Jim Auxer was reelected as mayor, winning by a margin of 184 votes. Robertson was uncontested in the race, winning with 236 votes. The five seats for Town Council were filled by Cheryl Roberts (229 votes), Chris Stroech (187 votes), Marty Amerikaner (186 votes), Jenny Haynes (176 votes) and Jim Ford (156 votes).