The City Council election held Aug. 7 in Brunswick, a former railroad town along the Potomac in Frederick County, Md., looked like a warm-up for a possible referendum to recall Mayor Susan V. Fauntleroy.
The battle was billed as natives against newcomers, with the mayor, a resident since 1977 who moved to Brunswick from Montgomery County, taking the heat for skyrocketing water rates and increased city spending.
But the balloting was inconclusive.
The dissident forces elected only one of their three candidates, although their winner, J. Brent Bell, a COMSAT electrician who got 465 votes, led a field of seven competing for three seats.
The day before the election, the town attorney rejected for the second time a recall petition submitted by the mayor's critics, including Bell. The critics, who call their group VOCAL, have hired a lawyer to help them comply with all technicalities, and say they will submit another petition.
"My feeling is the matter for the time being is settled," said Fauntleroy, who said she is looking forward to working with Bell and the other new council member, independent Carroll A. Jones. "I'm not very a vengeful person."
Bell, who resigned as secretary of VOCAL after the election, said he intends to continue "to speak and ask questions" but will try to work with the mayor "and, hopefully, we can." So far as the recall is concerned, he said he has "mixed emotions" and "I'm going to sort of be neutral."
Not so Dick Goodrich, a VOCAL activist who plans to run against Fauntleroy if the recall petition succeeds. He said the water rates, raised to repair an antiquated system, and sharply rising city expenditures are overtaxing the resources of many of Brunswick's longtime residents.
Goodrich acknowledged that feelings run deep in the town of 5,000, which is home to many commuters.
"There are people who will stop speaking to you," he said. "Four of the six councilmen don't speak to me, but I'm a bigger person than that."