Here are the unofficial results for the 2009 Salisbury city election. There’s still a number of absentee ballots to be counted but it appears that Jim Ireton will be the new mayor by a fairly significant margin.
There’s also a decent possibility that the constitution of City Council will be unchanged, although the absentee ballots will determine the District 1 results between Shanie Shields and Cynthia Polk – after the initial count just 3 votes separated the pair.
Probably the only real surprise to me was the strength of Ireton’s win, since I was thinking more along the lines of an 8-to-10 point win rather than the 18 point bulge he enjoyed. Obviously the primary win margin held true through the general election as those who supported the also-rans and those who skipped the primary split in a similar fashion to the March 3rd balloting.
The District 1 result could echo that of 2005, where it was the absentee ballots splitting in Shanie Shields’ favor which allowed her to oust an incumbent. If Cynthia Polk picks up just four votes history could repeat itself.
While I would have liked to see Muir Boda put up a little better number, it’s no surprise that Debbie Campbell won handily. As I said in a comment for the last post I’m hoping Boda takes another shot in 2011, when there will be three District 2 seats open.
Looking ahead to 2011, I seem to recall in the dim recesses of my mind that Louise Smith only wanted one term in office so that seat would open up. Terry Cohen would be a formidable incumbent but voters may be more inclined to throw out Comegys as a loser in the previous election. Thus, it is possible that we could have significant turnover in the City Council at the midpoint of Jim Ireton’s term.
Of course the question now becomes just how much of his ambitious agenda Jim Ireton will be able to accomplish with the limited funds he’ll have at his disposal. Perhaps the better question may yet be just how high he’ll need to raise taxes and fees to cover those items near and dear to his heart – or how indebted he’ll be to Barack Obama and Martin O’Malley to chip in and defray the overt cost to city taxpayers.
As far as City Council is concerned, the question now becomes whether that infamous 3-2 split will change if Polk overtakes Shields in the final count. On a number of key issues the Council split with Comegys, Smith, and Shields lining up against Cohen and Campbell. With longtime Mayor Barrie Parsons Tilghman out of the way, it’s assured that for a certain segment of the population there will be no one to blame if Salisbury’s struggles continue.
Another change certain to be pushed is a change back to a line-item budget once again. Over the last several years the trend has been to a more general departmental budget, but Jim Ireton campaigned on a platform of transparency and we’ll see if he follows through fairly quickly on his promise once the FY 2010 budget is put into shape.
Above all, I hope Ireton allays my concerns with some of what I see as anti-growth positions. Even though my paycheck doesn’t completely depend on growth anymore I certainly don’t want this part of the Eastern Shore to stagnate any longer than it has. We seemed to be one of the first areas into the recession and hopefully we’ll be among the first out.
There are a number of strikes against us, though, and if the wrong parts of the Ireton agenda are enacted too quickly it could set us back even further.