TOPSHAM — A ballot inspection and informal recount on Jan. 9 determined that James Trusiani won a seat on the Board of Selectmen Jan. 6 by one vote.
Thomas Sawyer, who received 407 votes to Trusiani’s 408, requested the ballot inspection. Both candidates and their legal representatives then recounted the ballots for themselves and each other, and arrived at the same totals both times.
Town Clerk Ruth Lyons ran the recount, while deputy election wardens and Selectmen Ronald Riendeau and Sandra Consolini watched.
Other candidates in last week’s race for the fifth Board of Selectmen seat were James Morris, who received 118 votes; Carol Clark, 62; Michael Dumas, 42; and Paul Fothergill with nine.
“It’s a relief,” Trusiani said after the recount, “but the big thing is, now we’ve got a fifth person in the seat. Regardless of whether it’s me or whoever, we can move forward.”
Trusiani ran last November for a third term on the Board of Selectmen, and finishing third behind fellow incumbent Riendeau and challenger Paul Bennett. The special election was scheduled after Bennett opted not to serve on the board after word spread about his 1996 manslaughter conviction.
Trusiani praised Sawyer’s campaign and said he would like to see his former opponent remain involved in town government.
“This was my first dip into politics, and it’s been a very positive experience,” Sawyer said, adding that while he was disappointed not to win the seat, the final outcome of the vote “really reinforces the integrity of the voting process, and the town clerk’s office here in Topsham is just fantastic.”
Trusiani echoed Sawyer’s sentiments, saying the recount “shows the accuracy of our town clerk’s process of elections.”
“I was very confident (the vote) was correct,” Town Clerk Ruth Lyons said after the recount. “Even though it’s only one vote, I felt very confident.”
Sawyer said he had wondered about what might have happened if he had called one more person, or if another voter had showed up at the polls.
“It’s terrible to go into those things because you’re so close,” he said. “There’s just so many things that could have changed it. You could drive yourself crazy.”
Still, Sawyer said he was encouraged by his high finish, competing against someone with Trusiani’s board experience. He said he also sees a bright political future for third-place finisher Morris, a 2004 Mt. Ararat High School graduate who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.
“He’s very articulate and very committed and very involved,” Sawyer said. “(The candidates) were all good … Topsham won.”
Topsham Board of Selectmen candidate James Trusiani, left, looks on Jan. 9 as Thomas Bell, an attorney with Moncure & Barnicle, counts ballots from the Jan. 6 election.
Topsham Board of Selectmen candidates James Trusiani, second from bottom left, and Thomas Sawyer, second from bottom right, recount ballots with their representatives on Jan. 9. Trusiani’s one-vote margin of victory held up.