Four to join Town Council

GREAT FALLS -- Four new faces will soon join the Great Falls Town Council.

Todd Smith, Joyce Autry, Darryl Washington and Jimmy Williams won council seats in Tuesday's election, according to unofficial results.

Autry, Washington and Williams will serve four-year terms, while Smith will fill the seat of former Councilman Jack Taylor, who resigned in December. That term expires in 2010.

The only incumbent in the race was Maxine Wood, who lost her seat when she finished four votes behind Autry.

"I'm not totally disappointed," said Wood, who sounded upbeat when reached at home Tuesday night. "I just wish 'em all the best. I hope they can get in there and do some things that I had tried to do, and maybe they'll be more successful."

Wood said she was relieved by the results.

"The relief would come with the fact that unless you've been there, you don't know what you're facing," she said. "You had to be there to know what it's like. It's not all peaches and cream."

Two openings on the council were created when former Councilman Toby Gladden resigned in December and former Councilman Earl Taylor, Jack Taylor's brother, didn't file for re-election.

The resignations of Gladden and Jack Taylor came after the council's controversial 4-3 vote to terminate town clerk Julie Blackwell on Sept. 25, a day after she accused four council members of holding an illegal meeting.

Gladden and Jack Taylor, along with Earl Taylor and Wood, supported the decision to fire Blackwell. This was the same quartet of members Blackwell confronted about the alleged illegal meeting at Town Hall.

After a public outcry over Blackwell's firing, the council unanimously voted to bring her back a few weeks later.

"I've gotten beyond that," Wood said Tuesday. "I have no hard feelings whatsoever."

A dozen candidates ran for office in this year's town election, including a former mayor, a school resource officer and the Wiccan priestess who sued the town in 2001, claiming Great Falls violated church and state separation by using the name Jesus Christ in prayers.

Town Council members typically serve four-year terms and are paid $2,100 per year.

The results will be certified at 10 a.m. Thursday at Great Falls Town Hall, said Chester County Election Commission Director Earl Moore.