- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 5, 2002

Kensington residents turned out in force to re-elect Mayor Lynn Raufaste on Monday night.
Officials in the town of about 1,800 said 589 residents cast ballots. Mrs. Raufaste received 332 votes, or 56 percent, to challenger Andrea Gill's 257 votes, or 44 percent.
The turnout was nearly double that of the mayoral election two years ago.
Mrs. Gill's campaign had drawn support from residents who said they felt that, as the town's leader, Mrs. Raufaste had not listened to or considered all residents' views.
The town and its mayor and council drew international attention late last fall after they decided to exclude Santa Claus from the town's holiday tree-lighting ceremony, of which the Christmas figure had long been a part.
And some Gill supporters pointed to that controversy as an example of a "lack of inclusiveness" from the mayor's office.
Town officials' decision to exclude Santa came after they had turned down requests to allow a menorah next to the town's tree. Mrs. Raufaste had argued that the menorah was a religious symbol and, therefore, inappropriate, but that Santa and the tree were secular.
Although town leaders later relented, the controversy put Kensington on the map as a bastion of political correctness, and some business owners called the incident a "national embarrassment."
Mrs. Raufaste's campaign may have gotten a boost when two council members declared their support for her shortly before the election, Gill supporter Kerry Thompson said.
She said Mrs. Gill may have lost ground because Mrs. Raufaste "wound up the defining issues" in a widely distributed flier that listed what were described as Mrs. Gill's "concerns," then rebutted them with the "facts."
James Fetig, a Raufaste supporter, said many Kensingtonians view the mayor as a pragmatic administrator who has greatly improved services and the appearance of the town.
Both mayoral candidates worked hard in the final days to increase turnout and win votes, said Al Carr, an unopposed candidate who won a Town Council seat and stayed neutral in the mayoral race.
"The result was a good one, because turnout was high and [the contest] got people more engaged," Mr. Carr said.
Raufaste supporters had criticized Mrs. Gill for taking about $3,500 in political contributions and said they worried that, if she succeeded, it would herald the end of low-profile, locally centered elections.
Mrs. Gill said yesterday that only about $295 of the contributions came from people or businesses that weren't voters or taxpayers in Kensington.
Mrs. Gill said she was proud her supporters had spoken out and that she was pleased Mrs. Raufaste called her yesterday and invited her to talk about working together.

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