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FALMOUTH — Democrat Dale Denno defeated incumbent state Rep. Mike Timmons, R-Cumberland, 3,385 to 2,638, in a rematch Tuesday in House District 45.
It was the second time the Cumberland residents have squared off to represent the district, which covers Cumberland and a southern section of Gray.
Incumbents prevailed in other House elections in the area.
Denno won in Cumberland by 750 votes, 3,043 to 2,293, while Timmons narrowly took Gray, 345-342.
Timmons in 2014 narrowly defeated Denno, 2,472 to 2,446. But the end of his first term in office was marked by extended debate over his failure to vote to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of state funds to preserve the 215-acre Knight’s Pond/Blueberry Hill preserve.
Along with local funding and donations, $225,000 of the $1.13 million acquisition was earmarked in a Land for Maine’s Future grant. Timmons was criticized by town officials, voters, and Denno because he was one of six lawmakers to reverse positions and uphold the governor’s veto.
Timmons has said that if a bill to remove LePage from the bonding process had passed, taking authority in handling LMF finances away from the governor, the matter would have wound up in court, with no check ever issued for Knight’s Pond.
LePage later released bond monies for Knight’s Pond and other projects.
Timmons could not be reached for comment early Wednesday morning. Denno did not address the Knight’s Pond issue.
“I’m really very honored and gratified to have the support and confidence of the voters,” he said Wednesday. “Obviously it’s my job now to go out and earn that confidence, and I would plan to work hard to do that.”
Cumberland Town Manager Bill Shane said Monday that 45 percent of the town’s registered voters had voted by absentee ballot. He hoped for another 45 percent Tuesday to beat the 89 percent record turnout reported in 2012.
But Town Clerk Tammy O’Donnell said Tuesday that the town has “definitely had issues” this fall with mailing ballots, which she has addressed with the U.S. Postal Service and Maine Secretary of State’s Office.
In four or five cases, the town incorrectly issued a zip code or address, and second ballots were issued or the citizens were contacted in cases when the town was made aware, O’Donnell explained.
She noted, though, that there were many other cases in which ballots were sent to the correct address but were not received, and duplicate mailings were also not received.
“It has been a very concerning issue and I have spent a significant amount of time addressing this issue with the USPS,” O’Donnell noted.
Of 3,000 absentee ballots sent out, 12 had issues, she said, but pointed out that a citizen’s right to vote “is one of their most fundamental rights, and we do our absolute best to ensure that our residents have that ability.”
Denno served on the School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors from 1991-97, and was the chairman from 1995-96.
The Main Street resident retired in 2013 from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, where he was director of the Office for Family Independence and worked directly with the Legislature for more than two years.
Denno is also chairman of Cumberland’s Aging in Place Committee and an adjunct professor of business law at St. Joseph’s College. He also volunteers occasionally at Preble Street in Portland and the Cumberland Food Pantry.
In House District 44, incumbent state Rep. Teresa Pierce, D-Falmouth, won her second term by defeating Republican challenger Kimberly Parker Diamond. Unofficial results Tuesday night showed Pierce claimed a victory of 3,551 to 2,639.
Pierce, a former town councilor, said it had been a good race, and she was “excited to go back to work in Augusta.” Pierce also said it was an honor to represent Falmouth, and she was “humbled and honored” by the margin of victory.
Diamond, who had not previously run for political office, said she was happy with how both she and Pierce ran their campaigns.
“I’m pleased with everything and had a good time interacting with the people of Falmouth,” Diamond said. “I support (Pierce) completely.”
In House District 48, assistant House Majority Leader Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, received nearly 62 percent of the vote to defeat Republican challenger Paul Benjamin Shulz. The unofficial tally was 3,946 to 1,837.
In a rematch in House District 47, incumbent Rep. Janice Cooper defeated Republican Rick Snow for the second time. Cooper won a third term,3,744 to 2,312.
Republican Paul Chace of Durham, the incumbent in House District 46, won his third term in the Legislature with nearly 53 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results compiled by the Bangor Daily News.
Chace defeated Democratic challenger Sarah Hall, 3,042 to 2,740. House District 46 covers Durham, North Yarmouth and part of Pownal.
In House District 43, which covers part of Falmouth and Portland, Democrat Heather Sanborn of Portland won easily.
Her opponent, Jeffrey Langholtz, did not actively campaign, and did not respond to multiple requests for interviews during election coverage. Sanborn won Portland 2,613 to 1,256, and 986-692 in Falmouth, for a combined total of 3,599 to 1,948.