Ellis unseats Brunswick School Board incumbent Watson
BRUNSWICK — Challenger Rich Ellis defeated incumbent Byron Watson for the District 1 School Board seat on Tuesday
The vote was 623-486.
Brenda Clough, a first-time candidate, was uncontested for the District 2 seat and incumbent Janet Connors was uncontested in District 6; she has served 13 years on the School Board.
“I would like to express my deep gratitude to the residents of District 1 who came out and voted for me today," Ellis said in a prepared statement. "I would also like to thank the many supporters who helped me on this campaign in so many ways.”
Ellis said he will not forget the trust placed in him as he strives "to advocate for all of the residents of District 1 in the coming years.”
He said the election process has been a “great learning experience.”
Ellis said he looks forward to working with School Board members, administrators, teachers, parents, students and the local legislative delegation to respond to changing times and to support high-quality schools in Brunswick.
Watson was elected to the board in 2007 and became chairman, only to be stripped of the post last spring in the fallout from from an inappropriate e-mail he sent to Maine House Speaker Hannah Pingree.
He blamed his loss on his being labeled an "evil incumbent" and on “out-of-district funds” allegedly spent by Ellis.
“As the final figures hold, in three years there will be a lot of buyer's remorse,” Watson said, adding the School Board will “shift to the extreme left” because Ellis is “an extreme liberal follower.”
Ellis said allegations about his campaign funding “have no factual basis.” He said his campaign was largely self-funded and all contributions came from within District 1.
Watson said cutting school athletics would demoralize students and said “school pride is going to suffer” if athletics are stripped from the school budget.
Ellis said he does not intend to cut athletic programs, but said everything, including athletics, should be subject to close examination when it comes to the budget process.
Watson said he has enjoyed his time on the School Board.
“It has been an honor to serve the people of District 1 and if they want me to run again, I will,” he said.
Watson expressed concern about consolidated polling at the junior high school because District 1 is the farthest away from the school.
“I don't think that swayed the election, but a lot of people didn't show up,” he said.
Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org