Falmouth picks new councilors over Orestis

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FALMOUTH — The Town Council will see two new faces at its next meeting: Caleb Hemphill and Charlie McBrady.

In a close four-way race for two seats, Hemphill and McBrady eked out victories Tuesday over third-place finisher, incumbent candidate Chris Orestis, with unofficial vote counts giving Hemphill 1,325, McBrady 1,272 and Orestis 1,077. Erin Mancini trailed the pack with 791 votes.

The top choices essentially represent a split ticket, with left-leaning Hemphill a strong advocate for increasing public lands and right-leaning McBrady calling for less spending from the town’s undesignated fund. Both are political newcomers.

Hemphill, 53, said the outcome was “humbling.”

“It’s been a great experience,” he said of his successful campaign. “I’m pleased and looking forward to serving Falmouth.”

McBrady, 46, said he looks forward to “working with each member of the council” and focusing on the the town’s 2013 Comprehensive Plan.

“It’s a really good plan and it’s important to stay focused on those objectives,” particularly business growth areas on routes 1 and 100, he said.

Town Clerk Ellen Planer said voter turnout was strong for a non-presidential election year, but she didn’t have an accounting of total voters by press time.

According to the tallies on the school budget referendum, at least 2,308 voters turned out. Falmouth has about 9,100 registered voters, Planer said.

Outside the polls, many voters said they chose Hemphill because of his emphasis on land conservation and open space in the town. Voter Melanie Collins, for instance, said she voted for Hemphill because of his “strong leadership on the environment.”

Many voters for McBrady cited his conservative values and his status as a lifelong resident of the town. Voter Mike Davis said he voted for McBrady and Mancini for their “fresh perspectives.”

“They’re folks who have unique outlooks and new approaches for the town,” Davis said.

Many residents also expressed knowing the candidates personally as reasons for their votes.

“If they voted for me because they know me and they like me, then that’s a good thing,” McBrady said.

Orestis, 48, of Winn Road, was running for his second term on the council. He is chief executive officer of Life Care Funding, a company he founded in 2007 that helps senior citizens convert life insurance policies into long-term care.

Orestis couldn’t be reached for comment by press time, but on Wednesday morning his Facebook page contained a post thanking voters for their turnout and congratulating the winners.

Hemphill said he was surprised by Orestis’ loss.

“Chris was very confident and he did everything right,” Hemphill said. “He’s done a great job for Falmouth, but I look forward to working with the council and with Charlie.”

Mancini said she was in good spirits over the loss and optimistic about her political future.

“I’m happy with my first (campaign) experience,” she said. “I had tons of fun. I’m going to miss going to doors. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

Hemphill, of Dunham Pond Lane, owns a preservation woodworking business that specializes in restoring historic buildings, including Victoria Mansion in Portland. He serves as chairman of the town’s Land Management and Acquisitions Committee, vice president of the Falmouth Land Trust and a volunteer on the Falmouth Conservation Corps.

In addition, he is a past member of the Conservation Commission, Falmouth Trails Advisory Committee and Open Space Implementation Committee.

McBrady, of Foreside Road, is business development director for Zachau Construction in Freeport. He is also president of the board at the Morrison Center, a Scarborough school serving children and adults with profound developmental disabilities.

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or bmccanna@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.

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