Although 10 percent is still low for any civil election, the last-minute decision by several citizens to become write-in candidates may have added several hundred voters in an otherwise uncontested race for Vienna's Town Council.
Both registered and write-in candidates hustled to rally voters toward their cause during Election Day weekend. Between phone calls and mailings, the candidates hurried to get their support together for the May 4 election.
"It certainly energized me to get working," said re-elected Vienna mayor Jane Seeman.
Through their vote, supporters of write-in candidates Edgar Adamson, Pam Bartlett, Mary East and Anthony Giovanniello voiced their dissatisfaction with the way that the Town addressed their environmental concerns over the leaf-mulching operation on a Town-owned property located off of Beulah Road Northeast.
"I was pleasantly surprised," said Adamson of the write-in votes. "I think it sends a message that people aren't exactly 100-percent happy with what's going on."
Adamson said the decision to run was last-minute, as he found out during the Friday before Election Day that members of the Northeast Vienna Citizens' Association (NEVCA), of which he is president, nominated him to be a write-in candidate at their April 30 meeting.
"There was no master plan for this," said Adamson, adding that he had encouraged citizens to vote prior to his write-in candidacy.
BUT VOTERS overwhelming went for the incumbents. The winners were Vienna mayor Jane Seeman, Councilmembers Laurie Cole and Edythe Kelleher, and former Councilman Mike Polychrones.
"I think the write-in candidacy would have had much more stature in the eyes of the electorate if the write-in candidates filed ... [and] presented themselves door-to-door," said Councilmember Maud Robinson, who won re-election last year. "The way they did it, there was no chance for a dialogue. ... I simply think that they did not give the voters the opportunity to evaluate them. But it was their privilege to do what they did."
In the last uncontested election, voter turnout was 9.6 percent. Last year's election, which had six candidates vying for three seats, saw turnout at 18.3 percent.
Although the write-in vote for mayor received over 100 votes, Robinson said she thought the turnout was "average" for an uncontested race.
"In the absence of any town-wide, burning issues or concern, you don't get a large turnout," said Robinson.
The term for this year's winners begins July 1.