Harris defeats incumbent Favreau for Brunswick Town Council

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BRUNSWICK — Newcomer Dan Harris unseated long-time town Town Councilor Gerald Favreau on Tuesday to represent District 5.

According to unofficial results, Harris received 654 votes to Favreau’s 551, winning 54 percent of the vote.  

In an uncontested election in District 7 in west-central Brunswick, incumbent Councilor Sarah Brayman won a second three-year term.

Favreau was seeking a fourth three-year term on the council. He had not faced an election challenge since his first campaign for office in 2006.

District 5 is in east Brunswick, and includes Cook’s Corner and Brunswick Landing. 

In an interview Wednesday morning, Harris said he had “absolutely no idea” that he would win the election by such a wide margin.

“It surprised me sort of, but it’s nice to win,” Harris said. 

A retired corporate attorney, Harris, 76, moved to Brunswick in 2012 and currently sits on the boards of the Brunswick Development Corp. and Brunswick Downtown Association. 

Before moving to Brunswick, Harris lived in Boothbay, where he served six years on the board of selectmen. 

Brunswick taxes were one of the key concerns that he heard about from voters, Harris said. 

“A lot of people feel they are not getting their money’s worth,” he said. “A lot of people feel like they’re not being listened to.”

A plan to build a public road to connect Gurnet and Thomas Point roads in Cook’s Corner also emerged as an important issue for District 5 voters, Harris said.

The proposed road would help open up land owned by local developers for new construction and has been billed as a way to reinvigorate the surrounding shopping area. A recent engineering estimate put the road cost at $2.2 million.

Favreau has been a strong supporter of the proposal and has stated that it will be paid for through a new tax increment financing district in the area. 

Harris, on the other hand, opposes the project, on the grounds that the town is subsidizing private developers. 

“It seemed to resonate with people,” Harris said. “They thought the town should not be spending that kind of money for private interests.”

“It really would have been example of corporate welfare, in my mind,” Harris added. 

He called the assurances that new development in the area would help pay back the town’s investment “a kiss and a promise.”

Reached Wednesday, Favreau congratulated Harris on his victory, but lamented that he would not be able to finish some of the projects he has started as a town councilor. 

“It wish Dan all the luck in the world,” Favreau said, “but I would have been happy to get one more term.”

Changing demographics in District 5, which was amended in redistricting in 2013, might have contributed to his defeat, Favreau said, adding there were “a lot of new faces” at the polls on Tuesday. He pointed to the fact that 202 ballots cast were left blank as an indication that some voters were unconnected to the race. 

Since his last campaign in 2011, many new residents have moved into the former U.S. Navy housing at Brunswick Landing, Favreau said, changing the dynamics in a district that typically had a large population of military personnel who were not registered Brunswick voters.

He defended his stance on the Cook’s Corner road project, stating that it was necessary to revitalize the shopping area’s lagging fortunes. 

“If nothing gets done, it’s going to die and all of our taxes are going to go up,” Favreau said. 

Peter L. McGuire can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or pmcguire@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter @mcguiremidcoast

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