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Best Political Melodrama

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Fred Cecere’s Write-In Campaign

The tony Town of Chevy Chase (population about 2,800, median household income more than $250,000) exhibited a taste for political hardball last year. On May 5, the day of what had been advertised as an uncontested town election, an email went out urging a previously unpublicized write-in campaign on behalf of Fred Cecere for town council. Share only with “those you feel 100% certain are like minded,” the email cautioned. When the votes were counted, Cecere had won, 168-119, over incumbent Pat Burda, who was unaware of the opposition campaign until an hour before the polls closed. The people behind the stealth effort (Cecere preferred to call it “spontaneous”) claimed it illustrated voter dissatisfaction with the way things were being run. Those on the losing side decried a lack of transparency. Finger-pointing and threats of lawsuits led to a raucous September council meeting. “My recollection of [councilmembers] was that they were polite, they were dignified, they liked each other,” Election Board Chairman Steve Lawton said during the session, before telling the current councilmembers, “You sure yell at each other a lot.”

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