Davis narrowly wins re-election to Portland School Board

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PORTLAND — Incumbent Laurie Davis held on to her District 3 School Board seat by a slim margin Tuesday, narrowly defeating challenger William Linnell, 3,270 to 3,169.

Two candidates who ran unopposed for at-large seats on the board were also elected to the School Board.

Unofficial results Tuesday night showed Davis had 50.78 percent of the vote compared to Linnell, who had 49.22 percent of votes cast, for a difference of 1.56 percent. 

With 101 votes separating the two candidates, Linnell said he was unsure if he would challenge the results, saying he “wanted to sleep on it.”

District 3 covers the southern and western part of the city from Libbytown to Stroudwater and the Portland International Jetport. 

Davis, 64, of Oakdale Street, won a third term on the board. Linnell was ahead early in the vote count with a lead of just over 400 votes by the time both voting districts had reported. However, after absentee ballots were cast, Davis came out ahead.

Davis said she sees the result as a vote of confidence, and looks forward to continuing to advance education, support the school superintendent, and also see the new Fred P. Hall Elementary School built, among other things.

Davis said the strong absentee numbers reflect what she heard from constituents when she went door to door, when a number of residents said they had voted early.

“I appreciate their confidence in my work and will continue to move education forward in Portland,” said Davis, who is the executive director of TRIO Programs at the University of Southern Maine. 

Linnell, 60, of Congress Street, is a semi-retired carpenter and lobsterman who served on the Cape Elizabeth Town Council in the 1990s, and has run unsuccessfully for state Senate and Portland City Council.

“My hat’s off to Laurie,” Linnell said.

Linnell added he was not a fan of early voting, because there isn’t a chance to “flush out the issues” for voters. He said he was very proud of the work his friends and volunteers did during the campaign.

Incumbent Anna Trevorrow was re-elected to a third term on the board, while Roberto Rodriguez was elected to his first term. Rodriguez ran to fill the seat vacated by Pious Ali, who was elected to the City Council with just under 63 percent of the vote.

Unofficial results Tuesday had Trevorrow receiving 23,177 votes and Rodriguez, 15,411.

Some precincts saw more activity than usual.

At the Howard C. Reiche Community School, the polling place for residents in Precinct 2-1, about 4,000 voters had come in by 3 p.m., according to precinct Warden Marianne O’Malley Sampson. The turnout was much busier than past elections, O’Malley said, adding it was “definitely busier” than the 2012 presidential election.

“It was crazy,” she said, saying there was a line around the building before the polls opened at 7 a.m.

However, at the East End Community School, where residents of Precinct 1-1 vote, Warden Denise Shames said turnout had been “mild.” She said one reason was the higher number of people who voted absentee for the presidential election.

“It’s been manageable all day,” she said.

Shames did say there was a line of 50-75 people waiting for the polls to open, and after 8 a.m. it grew even longer. She said it took about an hour and a half for the line to clear, but otherwise the day was “completely manageable.” She said in her experience, Tuesday was much slower than past presidential elections.

Despite the mixed turnout, both stations were allowed to hire more clerks to work the polls. Shames said she signed on 10 clerks, up from six in past years. At Reiche, Sampson said there were 12 people working, also an increase from years past, which helped manage the line. She also said six deputy registrars were hired this year, up from the usual two to four, to help register same-day voters.

Shames said it was hard to tell, though, if more voters registered on Election Day because there were more deputy registrars, so the line never seemed too long.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.