Incumbent Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and longtime state legislator Don Munson emerged as the top vote-getters in their Republican races in Hagerstown’s primary elections Tuesday, according to complete but unofficial results.
With all 18 city precincts and early voting counted, Bruchey secured the GOP nomination for mayor, receiving 1,047 votes to top challenger Brian D. Caron who finished with 765.
Bruchey, who is seeking his third elected term as mayor, will face Democrat David S. Gysberts in the Nov. 6 general election, setting up a rematch of Bruchey’s 2009 victory.
“I’m very grateful, of course, that the citizens have put their trust in me to run again in November,” Bruchey said Tuesday. “It’s a long time. It’s seven months away. I just hope we can keep the momentum up and get our message out.”
Bruchey was elected mayor twice, first in 1997 and again in 2009. He was appointed to the post in 2006 after Richard F. Trump, who beat Bruchey in the 2005 election, resigned.
Gysberts received 1,390 votes as the lone Democrat on the mayoral primary ballot.
Munson, who previously served 36 years in the state Senate and House of Delegates, topped the GOP candidates running for a seat on the five-member Hagerstown City Council with 1,319 votes. He beat runner-up incumbent Councilman Forrest W. Easton’s total of 1,071 votes.
All five council seats are up for grabs in November.
“I’m very pleased with how it’s turned out,” Munson said. “It’s been quite an interesting experience. I’ve knocked on lots and lots of doors ... and had a chance to talk to a lot of people about a lot of issues and their feelings. That’s been eye-opening in many instances and fascinating.”
GOP candidates Chris Kelly, who had 981 votes, Larry Bayer, with 961, and Jonathan R. Burrs, 927, will also advance to the general election.
With only the top five advancing to the November election, Jeffrey Coney, who finished sixth in Tuesday’s GOP primary with 881 votes, was eliminated from the November ballot, barring a strong show of support from absentee voters.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 106 GOP absentee ballots out of 114 issued still to be counted, Washington County Election Supervisor Pam Byrd said.
For the Democrats, 126 absentee ballots were issued, and 110 returned, Byrd said.
The first round of absentee ballot counting will take place today. Provisional ballots will be counted April 11, followed by another round of absentee ballot counting on April 13 before the results are certified, Byrd said.
All five Democrats on the primary ballot for city council automatically advanced to the November election.
Former council member and Washington County Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire received the most votes with 1,390, while Councilman Lewis C. Metzner came in second with 1,217.
Former council member Penny Nigh was third with 1,124. Incumbent Councilmen William Breichner, who had 1,114 votes, and Martin Brubaker with 1,058, round out the ballot.
Incumbent Councilwoman Ashley C. Haywood, who is an unaffiliated candidate, will also be on the general election ballot.
Turnout for this year’s city primary was “very good” compared to the last one in 2009 when only about 11.8 percent of voters participated, county Election Director Kaye E. Robucci said.
The turnout for Tuesday’s city primary was about 25 percent, with about 20.8 percent of Democrats and about 30 percent of Republicans voting, Robucci said.
“We are very pleased with that,” she said.
This year is the first time the city and presidential primaries were held simultaneously.
Washington County’s 27.43 percent turnout for early voting and Election Day was the second most in the state, trailing only Kent County’s 29.82 percent, according to unofficial numbers on the Maryland State Board of Elections’ website.
A little more than 20 percent of the electorate voted statewide.
In comparison, the presidential primary in 2008 drew 34 percent of county voters to the polls, Robucci said.