n-fptrsuelection-011509 Election in RSU 5 draws small turnout

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FREEPORT — A fraction of voters in Freeport, Pownal and Durham elected 11 members Tuesday to the new Regional School Unit 5 Board of Directors.
Seven candidates were vying for six seats in Freeport, three seats were uncontested in Durham, and in Pownal the two winners included one write-in candidate.
In Freeport, 266 ballots were cast, or 4 percent of the town’s 6,420 registered voters. The winners were Nelson Larkins, Brenda Kielty, John Morang, Beth Parker, Kirsten Dorsey and Betsey Peters.
Larkins, who received 232 votes, was the only member of the Freeport Reorganization Planning Committee in the race.
“Now that the election is complete, we have a lot of work to do,” he said. “There is a budget to work through, teacher contracts to negotiate and the levelling up issue to talk about.”
Kielty said she is very excited about being elected. She received 197 votes and served on the RPC communications subcommittee. She said her experience on the subcommittee sparked her interest in the process.
“What a great bunch of people we have to work with,” Kielty said. “I know there is a big job ahead of us, but I am looking forward to getting to work.”
Morang, a School Committee member, received 223 votes. “This is an issue that will require a lot of work,” he said. “There will be bumps in the road, but we have a good RSU to work with.”
Morang also said he is going to keep an eye on two pieces of legislation this year: one that would do away with consolidation, and another that would do away with the penalty associated with nonconforming districts.
Parker, also a School Committee member, received 205 votes. She said the first course of action when the RSU board meets is to elect a chairman and vice chairman, to discuss superintendent leadership and draw lots for term limits.
Dorsey, a member of the RPC education and communication subcommittees, received 226 votes. She said she feels ready to start the work of the RSU. She said over the past few weeks she has connected with a few members of the board and said everyone’s background will add strength to the group.
“It seems as though everyone feels invigorated by this opportunity,” Dorsey said. “Together we can take an innovative approach to effectively support education.”
Peters received 203 votes. She said she is anticipating a smooth transition.
“Hopefully there will be a lot of continuity,” Peters said. “We will need the guidance of those who know the system.”
In Pownal, 64 votes were cast out of nearly 1,300 registered voters.
Jen Blackstone-Kaplan, vice chairwoman of the Pownal School Board, received 63 votes, and write-in candidate Eric Dube received 39 votes.
Kaplan said she is pleased to have another Pownal representative on the RSU board, since she was the only candidate who returned nomination papers.
Dube said when he realized there were no other volunteers for the RSU board, he stepped up to make sure Pownal had representation. He is a member of the Pownal Planning Board and owns his own engineering business. He said his wife has her own business and they have two children in the Pownal school system.
“We keep busy, but try not to overbook ourselves,” he said.
Six other write-in candidates also received votes.
In Durham, where there are about 3,600 eligible voters, there were 49 ballots cast in the uncontested three-candidate election.
School Board member Cori Holt received 43 votes, School Board Chairwoman and RPC Co-Chairwoman Laurie Poissonnier received 40 votes, and Melinda McKechnie, a Brunswick school bus driver, received 40 votes.
Poissonnier said the Durham representatives are very well rounded. She said she has a strong education background, Holt has business experience and McKechnie will bring a new perspective to the board.
“I am very passionate about education and am looking forward to what lies ahead of us,” Poissonnier said. “We have a lot of work right off the bat and I am eager to start.”
Freeport Superintendent of Schools Elaine Tomaszewski said she is pleased the full board was elected.
“They are a group of wonderful people from the three towns,” she said. “I know they will work hard to create a great RSU.”
According to Shannon Welsh, RSU interim secretary, each elected RSU
director will receive a certified letter from the Department of
Education that must be signed. When that is complete, the elected representatives will be considered official members of the board. The state will
then set a date for the RSU to officially meet to draw lots for term limits.
Welsh said a tentative meeting of the RSU is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29, at Freeport High School.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net.