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Tuesday’s election to fill two seats on the Bel Air Board of Town Commissioners remained too close to call after votes were tallied.

Incumbent Commissioners Robert Preston and David Carey were leading by just a few votes over first-time candidate Greg Adolph after 864 votes cast at the polls Tuesday and eight absentee ballots were counted.

But still to be counted were five other absentee ballots which remained sealed and eight provisional ballots cast by people who were not listed as registered but showed up to vote Tuesday.

Because a voter could vote for up to two candidates, those outstanding ballots could affect the outcome of the close race.

Carey noted he lost by two votes when he first ran in 1995.

“It’s a very close race, and we will see what happens on Monday,” he said.

“It’s been a good campaign so far,” Adolph said following Tuesday’s count, adding it was still difficult to say who would come out top.

The five absentee ballots and eight provisional ballots are due to be counted at 2:30 p.m. Monday at Town Hall, election officials said. Each of the provisional ballots is subject to challenge and it must still be verified that each was cast by a qualified voter.

With the five absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted the unofficial tally at the polls was as follows:

Robert Preston..................................414

David Carey......................................411

Greg Adolph......................................410

Rick Davis........................................356

Dave Mitchell....................................32

Steven Testerman.............................11

Testerman dropped out of the race with about a month to go, but it was too late to take his name off the ballot.

There were 864 voters of 6,044 registered who participated in Tuesday’s election under sunny skies, with temperatures in the mid-60s.

After the ballots cast at the polls Tuesday were counted, Preston and Adolph were tied at 409 votes apiece and Carey trailed by three votes at 406.

But when eight absentee ballots were counted, Preston picked up five votes and Carey also received four, while Adolph got just one, putting Preston first, Carey second and Adolph third, just one behind Carey. Davis picked up three votes but is too far behind to win one of the seats.

Election officials said five of the absentee ballots won’t be counted until Monday, a precaution in case only one provisional ballot is accepted to protect that voter’s anonymity.

Carey’s and Preston’s terms were up this year, and the remaining three commissioners have terms that will expire in 2012.

Preston and Carey supported each other in this year’s campaign, though they did not run as a ticket.

Both Davis and Adolph had the strong support of Commissioner Terry Hanley, who was hoping to replace either Carey or Preston, or both, thus setting the stage for Hanley to be elected chairman of the town board, which carries the ceremonial title of mayor.

Tuesday’s winners were due to be sworn in at the Nov. 16 town meeting. That may be put on hold, however, because the closeness of the results poses the possibility of a challenge and call for a recount on behalf of the person who finishes third.

Preston, 60, who owns Preston’s Stationery, Inc., has been a town commissioner since 2003.

In a pre-election interview, Preston had said he brings the perspective of a Main Street shop owner to the board.

Carey, a 45-year-old attorney with Brown, Brown & Young, was first elected to serve as a commissioner in 1997.

Carey cited his experience with the budget and his interest in the development process as some of his assets.

Adolph, 26, was the youngest challenger. He is a civil engineer with George W. Stephens Jr. and Associates in Belcamp.

Adolph, who is also chairman of the board of the Moores Mill Condominium Association, had said he wanted to get a better handle on where the town’s revenues are being spent.

Davis, 35, a lifelong town resident, is active in the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company and works as a lineman with BGE. He ran for town commissioner unsuccessfully in 2007.

Davis had said he would like to see the town refrain from raising taxes, and reduce the cost of the town hall expansion.

Mitchell, 54, has become known for selling hot dogs on Main Street and also owns a cleaning service and works as a security guard at Harford Memorial Hospital.

He had said he wanted to make being a town commissioner fun, but said he was also tired of how much money was being spent in the town.


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