The mayor of tiny Forest Heights in Prince George’s County survived a recount Monday night to win a third term in office, defeating a town council member backed by leading county politicians who did not like the mayor’s opposition to the MGM casino.
Incumbent Jacqueline Goodall won 138 votes out of 268 cast, according to the recount, eight votes more than council member Larry Stoner.
“If God wanted me to be the mayor, and this is what I’m supposed to be doing, than this is what I will do,” Goodall said. “I’m not a politician. I’m an elected official, and I’m just doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
The narrow margin of victory in the initial count last week — with Goodall ahead by nine votes — prompted Stoner to request a recount. He also has accused the town’s three-member elections board of serving after their terms had expired, throwing the outcome of the recount into jeopardy.
Goodall fell out of favor with County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) and other high-level county officials after she was paid by opponents of the MGM Casino project to lead a public campaign encouraging county residents to vote against a 2012 ballot referendum that authorized gaming.
Voters supported the measure, and Prince George’s received the state’s final gaming license, which allowed the MGM project to move forward.
Goodall never repaired relationships with Baker and other powerful Democrats from the county.
With the next mayoral race approaching, Baker, Sen. C. Anthony Muse and Dels. Jay Walker and Tony Knotts threw their support behind Stoner, a former D.C. police officer. Stoner said he received a total of $2,500 in campaign donations and endorsements from all four politicians.
Goodall, in contrast, said her campaign cost about $50.
The race turned ugly after Election Day last Wednesday, with both candidates alleging corruption, vote-tampering and violations of municipal election law.
Stoner accused Goodall of governing unilaterally and moving forward on her initiatives without input from residents. He said the mayor has wielded her influence to make changes in town charter that benefit her, such as a recent resolution to more than double her salary, from $5,000 to $12,000.
Goodall said councilmembers initiated the resolution because the mayor was working more than part-time hours on behalf of the town.
She questioned the ethics of Stoner’s dealings with Baker and state lawmakers and their donations for a municipal election — a type of election for which campaign finance is largely unregulated by the state.
On Monday, town clerk Bonita Anderson began the recount at 7 p.m. The results were announced just after 9 p.m. Goodall was still the winner, albeit by one fewer vote.
Stoner sent a letter to Anderson on Friday, saying that the terms of all three election board members had expired before the election and questioning the legitimacy of the entire electoral process.
“The election should be void,” he said.
He has 15 days to appeal the results to the town council, and 30 days to appeal to the Prince George’s County Circuit Court.
“I have to weigh my opinions,” he said Monday night. “Well, the thing about the recount is you don’t know what they did with those ballots. We’ll see what happens.”
Town attorney Kevin J. Best said the board “will make its own decisions on Mr. Stoner’s requests and allegations.”