Springfield Township primary offers quiet prelude to November

by Betsy Wallace
Posted 5/25/23

With low turnout and many candidates running unopposed, the May primary was hardly a sizzling lead-up to the general election.

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Springfield Township primary offers quiet prelude to November


With low turnout across Springfield Township and many candidates running unopposed, the May primary election was hardly a sizzling lead-up to the general election.

One unopposed candidate won in her ward with a mere 99 votes. 

But in one competition, Springfield Township was the actual winner, besting Montgomery County in the percentage of registered voter turnout, 29 to 25 percent.

According to the Montgomery County Voter Services Summary Report, 143,435 or 25% of registered voters in Montgomery County came out to vote on May 16 or submitted a mail-in ballot.  

Springfield Township’s voter turnout was predictably low but better than Montgomery County as a whole.  According to the Montgomery County Voter Services Summary Report on the May 16 primary election, there are 15,592 registered voters in the township. Overall, about 4,594 voters cast ballots (voting in-person and mail-in) for township-wide Democratic and Republican primaries for School Board candidates in the May 16 election. That’s a 29% overall township voter turnout rate regardless of party affiliation. 

The township voter turnout in Wards 1, 3, 5, and 7 brought out more Democrats than Republicans in their respective primaries, largely because the Springfield Township Democratic Committee had official candidates in every ward, whereas, the Township Republican Committee had official candidates in only Wards 3 and 7.

Democrat voter turnout for the commissioner positions in each ward ranged from a low of 31.8% (Ward 3) to a high of 38.2% (Ward 7).  The highest Republican voter turnout in the primary for commissioner was 22.7% in Ward 3, followed by Ward 7 (19.5%).  In Wards 1 and 5, where there was no official candidate, the voter turnout dipped as low as 5.9% (Ward 5) and 8.9% (Ward 1).

With that kind of voter participation rate, the 2023 candidates for School Board and for Ward Commissioners won their primaries with relatively few votes.

Jim Lee, the current president of the Board of Commissioners who is running for re-election in Ward 3, won his Democratic primary with 426 votes. His Republican opponent, William Mahoney III, won with 179 votes.  Mahoney, a retired CPA, has been an Oreland resident since 1987. This is his first time running for a township office.

The Ward 7 Commissioner primary election drew local attention due to former Commissioner Eddie Graham’s sudden resignation from the Board of Commissioners in March. Brendan May, a Laverock resident and Democrat who has not run for a township office before, is currently the Ward 7 commissioner appointee, filling the vacancy until the November general elections. May won his Democratic primary, garnering 464 votes.  May’s background is in investment analysis and he has been active in coaching local youth sports.

Maryellen Reeves, May’s Republican opponent in the November general election, won her primary with just 99 votes. Reeves has over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, accruing skills in long-term planning and conflict resolution, among other areas of expertise. 

Democrat Commissioners Mike Maxwell (Ward 1) and Baird Standish (Ward 5) decided not to run again, leaving the Commissioner seats in their wards open. 

Beth McNamara won her Democratic primary in Ward 1 with 604 votes.  She is a 40-year Township resident and adjunct professor at Drexel University, who is licensed in mental health and wellness counseling.

In Ward 5, Democratic candidate, Ed Morris, a Wyndmoor resident, lawyer, and real estate broker with experience in real estate law and in working with nonprofit organizations, ran unopposed after Democrat Beth Zenuk withdrew from the race early on, winning his election with 482 votes.

No official Republican candidates ran in the Republican primary for the commissioner Seats in Wards 1 and 5.  But there were write-in votes.  67 votes in Ward 1 and 24 votes in Ward 5. 

Carol Lockard, chair of the Springfield Township Democratic Committee, thought Democrats did well in the primary election but she “would have wished for larger voter participation.”  

According to Lockard, “election integrity is an important issue for Democrats right now,” pointing to the success of election lawyer and civil rights activist, Neil Makhija in winning the Democratic primary as an unendorsed candidate for Montgomery County Commissioner.  

When asked about whether the controversy over the Springfield Township Police Benevolent Association’s use of the thin blue line flag is an issue in the upcoming election, Lockard said “That’s a Republican issue.  We support our police – we have really good police officers here.”

The Springfield Township Republican Committee did not return requests for comment. 

Voting statistics used in this article are drawn from the Montgomery County Voter Services website.  All numbers are considered unofficial until they are certified by the Montgomery County Board of Elections during a public meeting that will occur on June 5.