BRUNSWICK, MD., OCT. 30 -- Voters in this former railroad town on the Potomac River ousted their mayor today in what was apparently the first-ever successful recall election in the state's history.
In a contest marked by a record 65 percent turnout for the town of 5,000, challenger Richard Goodrich received 805 votes to 465 for Mayor Susan V. Fauntleroy, whose term would otherwise have expired in 1992.
Goodrich, 48, a lifelong resident who works for International Business Machines Corp. in Gaithersburg, pledged that as mayor he will try to unite the town, which was deeply divided by the movement to recall Fauntleroy, 43, who moved here from Montgomery County in 1977.
"I'm very much looking forward to working with both those who supported me and those who supported Mayor Fauntleroy," said Goodrich, who immediately donned a sweatshirt that said, "Let's All Work Together for Brunswick."
Fauntleroy, whose administration was criticized for increased spending and water rates that skyrocketed under an effort to modernize an antiquated system, was not available for comment. In a written statement prepared before the outcome was known, she said that she also was "thankful that this divisive time is over."
Fauntleroy, who had attributed the recall move to her sex and her status as a relative newcomer, said in the statement she had prepared in case of defeat that she was sorry that "prejudice has arisen in Brunswick and that it has overcome, for now, the progress of good government. I regret that I will no longer be involved in charting the future of our town."
The election had been watched closely by incumbents across Maryland. Fauntleroy received calls of encouragement from several fellow mayors and from the office of Gov. William Donald Schaefer (D). State Sen. John N. Bambacus (R-Allegany/Garrett) wrote saying, "Don't let the bastards get you down."
Maryland has 154 municipalities, of which 15 have recall provisions. There have been two other recall attempts, both in Prince George's and both were unsuccessful, according to the Maryland Municipal League.
Today's voter turnout in Brunswick was almost double that of the 1988 election that put Fauntleroy in office. "If we had just had the cooperation of the mayor," there would have been no recall movement, said Merle Anderson, president of an group calling itself VOCAL, which was the driving force behind the recall. "It seemed like she distanced herself from the people, put herself in a castle with a little moat around it."
With many of the lifelong residents senior citizens on fixed income, the recall had also turned into a referendum on whether the town would adhere to its blue-collar roots or move in a different direction with its growing population of more affluent commuters who work in the Washington area.
The anti-Fauntleroy camp distributed T-shirts saying "VOCAL Cares." Administration supporters countered with "VOCAL Scares." The mayor's supporters called themselves "Responsible Citizens for Mayor Fauntleroy," which Goodrich backers resented because they said it implied they were irresponsible.
Interest in the election increased voter registration to 2,034 from 1,700 last summer, when a Town Council election foreshadowed today's contest. In that election, a VOCAL-backed candidate was the top vote-getter in a field of seven for three seats.
Shortly afer 8 p.m., about 200 voters who had gathered across from the firehall, where citizens voted, crossed the street to hear Police Chief Mike Stumbaugh announce the results. At the Berlin Cafe, a female mannequin was hung in effigy.
Goodrich supporters chanted, "We are responsible citizens."