Water Line Loses By One Vote; Carter Re-Elected Mayor In Close Race

May 5, 1955

Smith Barnes and Jefferson Win Seats On Council

R. Earl Carter was reelected Mayor of Sykesville on Tuesday in a close, hard-fought town contest that saw a proposed water line for fire protection, the heard of his improvement program, lose by a single vote.

Arthur K. Collette, who ran as a write-in candidate for Mayor and championed the cause of those opposed to the water line, trailed by only seven votees. The count was:

Carter – 100

Collete – 93

Three new members were elected to the town council – Jay T. Smith, Leroy E. Barnes and Horace C. Jefferson. Councilman Wilbur S. Wimmer, a candidate for reelection, trailed in the voting. Mr. Wimmer, a patient in a Baltimore hospital where he underwent an operation, was unable to participate in the final, crucial week of the campaign.

The councilman vote was:

Smith – 166

Barnes – 163

Jefferson – 153

Wimmer – 78

The amendment authorizing a 20c increase in the town tax rate, an increase necessary to finance the proposed water line, failed to carry by one vote. This important vote, as sustained by a recount on Wednesday, was:

For – 76

Against – 77

By a majority of

nine votes, the amendment to remove a $15,000 limit on the town’s borrowing capacity was passed. The official vote on this question was:

For – 81

Against – 72

80% Of Registration Votes

As indicated by the above results, nearly 20% or roughly one-fifth of the people who voted for Mayor and Council failed to mark their ballots for or against the amendments. Nineteen citizens who went to the local polling place could not vote because they were not registered to participate in town elections. The total vote cast was 196 or approximately 80% of the registration.

The following served as election officials” Mrs. Clara Dudderar, Mrs. Catherine Tucker, Mrs. Lucille Berry and Mrs. Katura Sandosky.

By the vote Tuesday, town officials were granted the borrowing capacity needed for town improvements such as the water line, but were denied the additional tax money necessary to pay for them within a reasonable length of time.

While a number of smaller issues, some of them not impersonal, entered into the contest, the water question with its accompanying increase in taxes, was the main issue of the election. The difficulty was that all property owners would have shared the cost, through increased taxes, but not all would have benefited at once from reduced fire insurance rates. Several years would have been required to extend the water to side streets.

Strong Opposition

Even thus, the strong opposition in certain quarters to what was obviously a needed civic improvement defied explanation. No town of its size in all Maryland stands in more desperate need of water and sewage facilities than does Sykesville. Yet, when opportunity came to take an important step in the direction of these sorely needed improvements, there was evidence of too many, in high places, working quietly but efficiently to discourage it.

Brunt of the campaign for the water line was carried by Mayor Carter and Leroy S. Keeney, veteran and dependable workhorse in the town council. Even in the local volunteer fire company, where water logically would be of paramount importance, opinion was sharply divided, with the chief working for the water amendment, the president against.

Months of negotiating with various State boards and officials were required before Mayor Carter received the green light for a plan to pipe water from Springfield State Hospital and to present the plan to the town voters. At first only a fire line, the pipe was of sufficient size to provide domestic water for a growing population, if desired in the future. The suggested 20c tax increase would have paid for the line within six years and permitted extension of the line to some side streets within that time.

New Debt Limit

With the lifting of the $15,000 debt ceiling, the town officials are now permitted under state law to borrow up to 5% of the local assessment, which now stands at $1,300,000 for municipal purposes Thus the town’s borrowing capacity now stands at slightly more than $85,000. Normally, $15,000 is used for roads and other town needs. It was estimated the water line would cost some $47,000.

What further action, if any, will be taken on the water question awaits consideration by the new Council and a study of newly enacted Maryland home rule provisions. It is not unlikely that the water issue eventually will be decided in a special election, after the pros and cons of the question have been more extensively debated and considered by the local citizens.

The newly elected town officials will be induced into office on Monday night. In addition to Smith, Barnes, and Jefferson, the new council includes three holdover members – Leroy S. Keeney, Carroll D. Ely and Wm. Henry Forsyth.

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