Russell Beats McKay by 124 Votes

By David Noss

CALIFORNIA, Md. (November 13, 2010)—The final results are in and incumbent Jack Russell (D) has beaten challenger Tommy McKay (R) by 124 votes (15,569 to 15,445) for the presidency of the St. Mary's County Board of Commissioners. The final absentee ballots were counted on Friday.

After the general election, Russell was leading McKay by only 14 votes. Russell pulled ahead by 128 votes after the first counting of absentee ballots on November 4.

McKay held the office prior to Russell. He decided not to run for re-election in 2006 so he could challenge Roy Dyson for his State Senate seat in the 29th district.

Russell's first tenure as president is probably best known for rising property taxes and the "Hayden Farm" land procurement. In the latter, the county commissioners paid $5,259,500 for four parcels of land to be used for a new elementary school and other public facilities. The price agreed upon was $1,189,500 (29 percent) more than the highest appraisal made 18 months earlier—near the peak of the real estate price bubble. The decision to pay that price was made in a meeting on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2008.

Russell will be the only Democrat on the new board.  Republicans swept the other four seats in the November 2 election. There are only two Republicans, Larry Jarboe and Kenny Dement, on the current board.  Dement was eliminated in the primary by commissioner-elect Cindy Jones.

Jarboe was the only commissioner to vote against the "Hayden Farm" deal.

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