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Vendil, Seeliger win Portland School Board contests

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Vendil, Seeliger win Portland School Board contests

PORTLAND — Two incumbents and one newcomer are set to join the Portland School Board after victories on Election Day.

Incumbent Sarah Thompson, who ran unopposed for her at-large seat, captured 26,757 votes in her bid for a third term.

The District 1 seat, which covers the city's East End to High Street, was captured by incumbent Jenna Vendil, the 1st Congressional District field director for the Maine Democratic party. She was challenged for her second term by newcomer Thomas Kelley, a staff assistant for U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.

The close race was decided by just over 730 votes; Vendil had 2,738 votes to Kelley's 2,007.

Kelley said Vendil ran a great campaign and her position as the incumbent gave her an advantage. He added that he doesn't know if he will run for political office again.

“This is my first run (at office), so I don't think losing really means too much,” he said.

Two newcomers, Holly Seeliger and Jeanne Swanton, battled for the District 2 seat being vacated by Ed Bryan. Seeliger received 3,065 votes to Swanton's 2,108 in the West End district.

Seeliger, who works in an alternative education program at the Real School on Mackworth Island, said she decided to run for School Board because she wanted to do her part to keep students in Maine and help develop policies to allow schools to provide students with the skills needed to do so.

She said she thinks she won her seat because people liked her signs, palm cards, and the platform she laid out early in the campaign.

“I'm really excited and surprised, but I've been working really hard for about six months now,” Seeliger said.

She said she was surprised that she won because she feels people were quick to judge her for her youth and her experiences as a burlesque dancer. She revealed this part of her life early in the campaign, concerned that it might be a concern for voters.

“I feel like it wasn't scandalous,” she said last month. “I had a fear when I first had the desire to run about whether people would accept me, but I had to be honest and people will feel however they want to feel about (my dancing).”

Swanton on Tuesday night said she wanted to wait until all of the votes, including absentee ballots to be counted Wednesday, were tallied before commenting on her opponent's election.

Vendil and Thompson could not be reached for comment late Tuesday and early Wednesday.

Amber Cronin can be reached at acronin@theforecaster.net or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter @croninamber.