CRISFIELD — Mayor-elect Darlene Taylor expressed her gratitude to voters and pointed heavenward saying “it’s all Him” for putting her in the place she is today. When all votes were counted and certified on June 17 she garnered 51% of all ballots cast in the four-person race, defeating incumbent Mayor Barry Dize by 9 percentage points.
Ms. Taylor will be sworn-in 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 22. Also taking the oath of office will be Councilman-elect Ivan “Tank” Lankford as well as former Councilwoman LaVerne Johnson, and incumbent Councilman Casey Goldsborough who were the top three vote getters among the five candidates.
They defeated incumbent Mike Atkins, and Ruthie Todd, a former council member.
After all votes were counted Friday afternoon Ms. Taylor said it was God’s intervention that put her on the path to run for mayor, “otherwise I wouldn’t be here,” she said.
Ms. Taylor said, “I was happy what I was doing” and had enough on her plate as executive director of It Takes a Village to Help Our Children Inc., but the recent hiring of a project director and site director gives the nonprofit the stability it needs as she now follows God’s lead to provide a new vision for Crisfield.
The details, “God will work that out,” she said.
Her plan is to bring people together, build relationships, and she asks residents to allow her the time “to learn how the city works today.” “I’m not going in to make crazy changes,” she said, but “look for ways to improve. There is always room for improvement, but the big part will be to bring the community together.”
Ms. Taylor said she knows this won’t be easy but she will “invite people to the table and be open to all good ideas people have, and look for ways to work together.”
Focal points of her campaign were on revitalizing Main Street and the rehabilitation of derelict housing, putting policies and promotions in place that put Crisfield ahead as a business friendly city, and finding ways to have youth and family entertainment. She also wants to continue the infrastructure improvements that address water and sewer and street flooding — with the hiring of a chief infrastructure engineer.
Her vision also includes establishing an open air seafood market which will be a place for residents and tourists, partnering with local universities as well as NASA Wallops for satellite classes and marine science research, and finding a company that will locate a call center here.
The top vote getter for City Council was Ivan Lankford, a Crisfield native who retired from law enforcement in Montgomery County and is now the supervisor of public safety at Wor-Wic Community College. He along with Councilman Goldsborough were running on a ticket to include Councilman Atkins and Mayor Dize, but only Mr. Goldsborough will be returning.
The second highest number of votes for council went to former Councilwoman Johnson, who had served for 14 years before being defeated in 2020. She had served as vice president of the council, a position now held by Eric Banks, but subject to change during the organizational meeting when the new council members are seated.
Mr. Banks was elected in 2020 as was Councilwoman Charlotte Scott and they were not on the ballot during this election cycle.
In the mayor’s race one-term Councilman Jimmy Ford polled just eight votes, and Donald Alcorn finished with 56. If they had not run it is uncertain how a contest of just Taylor vs. Dize would have ended as 46 votes separated them 268 to 222. Mayor Dize congratulated Ms. Taylor on election night when they were separated by 56 votes even though there were up to 57 ballots that may have been qualified to count as provisional or as absentee if postmarked and delivered by Friday afternoon.
Ms. Taylor is the second African-American woman to be Crisfield’s chief executive, but the first to be elected to the position. The late Catherine Brown who was council vice president assumed the role of mayor in May 1998 following the death of Mayor Donnie Gerald and served until the election of the late Mayor Richard Scott a month later.
The organizational meeting will be at the Corbin Studio & Gallery where voting took place.