SNOW HILL – Contests in two close races were decided last week with the conclusion of mail-in and provisional ballot counting.
In an extremely tight race, incumbent Worcester County Commissioner Ted Elder held onto his seat with a six-vote victory in District 4. In the county’s other close race, Eric Fiori was confirmed the winner of the District 3 seat long held by Commissioner Bud Church.
Elder, who said during his campaign he wanted to serve one more term in Snow Hill, acknowledged that like most of his races, this was a close one.
“One carload of people could’ve changed the outcome,” he said. “I was just happy to eke it out. I had three very qualified, very well-known opponents.”
While both Elder and Fiori led in their districts at the close of polls on election day, Fiori was less than 40 votes ahead of his closest opponent and Elder was just 18 votes ahead of his nearest rival. Following the final canvass of provisional and mail-in ballots on July 29, both retained their leads. Fiori received a total of 333 votes while two of this three opponents, Thom Gulyas and Tim VanVonno, tied with 296 votes each. Shawn Kotwica rounded out the field with 127 votes. While Fiori earned 254 votes on election day, ahead of VanVonno’s 213 and Gulyas’s 188, Gulyas led in mail-in and provisional balloting. Gulyas received 59 mail-in and provisional votes while Fiori received 40, VanVonno received 37 and Kotwica received 14.
Fiori spent the months leading up to the primary campaigning heavily, making appearances at a variety of community events in an effort to reach the voters one-on-one. He said that while he was confident going into the primary, he was grateful for the support he’d received. He believes he has fresh ideas to bring to county government and is eager to get started in December.
“I’m really excited,” he said.
In Elder’s district, he received 239 votes, just six more than former commissioner Virgil Shockley. Nancy Bradford received 221 votes while Jeff McMahon received 219 votes.
As far as the vote breakdown, on election day Elder received 175 votes while Shockley received 171 votes, McMahon received 161 votes and Bradford received 156 votes. Mail-in voting did not follow those trends, however. Shockley received the most mail-in votes at 37, while Bradford was not far behind him with 32. McMahon received 28 mail-in votes while Elder received just 25 mail-in votes.
Elder, who will begin his third term this fall, said he was truly looking forward to continuing his role on the dais. Bringing broadband to rural Worcester, one of his longtime priorities, is poised to move forward thanks to federal and state grant funds.
“The next four years are going to be fun,” he said. “We’re going to get some broadband in the biggest part of the county. The future looks bright for Worcester County.”
Other incumbents set to retain their seats following the July 19 primary include District 5 Commissioner Chip Bertino, District 6 Commissioner Jim Bunting and District 7 Commissioner Joe Mitrecic. While Mitrecic was unopposed, Bertino defeated challenger Grant Helvey, receiving 662 votes to Helvey’s 338, while Bunting defeated challenger Richard Addis, receiving 677 votes to Addis’s 427 votes.
In the south end of the county, the general election will determine who represents the Pocomoke area. Incumbent Commissioner Josh Nordstrom, a Democrat, will face Republican challenger Caryn Abbott. In the uncontested primary, Nordstrom received 346 votes. Abbott meanwhile, also uncontested in the primary, received 573 votes.