From a trusted correspondent in Kensington:
Kensington voters last night ousted a Town Council incumbent while reelecting another in a nonpartisan election that drew a robust turnout, at least by recent local standards.
The leading vote-getter in the field of three candidates was Conor D. Crimmins, a newcomer to Town politics who polled 233 votes. Trailing Crimmins, who moved to Kensington just three years ago, was Darin R. Bartram, a two-term Council member, who won 210 votes.
The losing candidate, Tom H. Rodriguez, received 207 votes — confirming expectations that the outcome would be close. Observers figured that at least 200 votes would be necessary to win election, given the intensity of the campaign that had preceded the voting.
In all, 358 paper ballots were marked in the election that spanned three hours and even produced short lines of waiting voters at Town Hall.
In Kensington’s most recent contested Town election, in 2015, 244 votes were cast. Rodriguez and Bartram were elected then, with 158 and 157 votes, respectively. Both men are registered Republicans.
Crimmins, chief operating officer at Spider Strategies, a technology and consulting firm in Washington, had stumped vigorously for votes, spending weeks going door-to-door across the town of 2,300 people. He maintained that the Town government should move more swiftly to address such issues as traffic congestion, parking restrictions, and the appearance of Kensington’s commercial district.
Crimmins, a registered Democrat, also pledged courtesy and respect in dealings with townspeople, some of whom have grumbled that Council members can be prickly in responding to complaints and suggestions.
Bartram, a partner at Baker Hostetler who works on the conservative side in environmental and constitutional law, advocated status quo in Town governance. He endorsed Rodriguez’s reelection bid, for example. And speaking at a candidates’ forum two weeks before the election, Bartram praised “the very good dynamic” on Town Council, the four members of which serve staggered two-years terms. Kensington also elects a mayor to two-year terms. The Town’s day-to-day affairs are run by a town manager and an assistant town manager.
Rodriguez, who is a project director for Luntz Global, a research firm run by Republican pollster Frank Luntz, conducted an extensive door-to-door campaign. He emphasized his role in chairing the Town’s Greenscape Committee, which has overseen the recent installation of a fountain and brick walkway at a park across from Kensington’s post office.
Rodriguez also was host at a picnic for Townspeople two days before the voting.
In some ways, the election was as much social event as political exercise. During the hours of voting, townspeople mingled outside of Town Hall, chatting with each other, with the candidates, and with other elected officials, who included state delegates and former and incumbent Kensington mayors.