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Incumbents win Brunswick School Board races; Millett takes Town Council seat

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Incumbents win Brunswick School Board races; Millett takes Town Council seat

BRUNSWICK — Tuesday's election resulted with three incumbents retaining their School Board seats.

But the election of two newcomers to Town Council may shake things up when the new year starts.

In the council's only contested race, newcomer Jane Millett won District 6 with 52 percent of the vote against Alison Harris, 183-165.

Incumbent Councilor David Wilson and newcomer Steve Walker won uncontested seats in District 1 and District 2, respectively.

Millett and Walker will replace outgoing Councilors Margo Knight and Ben Tucker.

On the School Board side, incumbent Rich Ellis, with 55 percent of the vote, won the District 1 race against former board member Byron Watson, 233-184.

The victory was Ellis' second against Watson, who he unseated in 2010.

Incumbent Janet Connors won the board's District 6 race against newcomer Daniel Hammond Jr. with 73 percent of the vote, 237-84.

And incumbent Brenda Clough won the board's uncontested District 2 race.

Turnout was 19 percent out of the town's nearly 17,000 registered voters.

Millett, 66, a outspoken critic of the council, said she hopes to create more transparency and include more citizen input after she is sworn in in January.

"I'm really glad that (Walker) will also be on the council," Millett said. "I think a number of us can work toward more transparency in town government, and provide more facts and figures to the public so there can be more understanding of the decisions that are made."

Millett attributed her victory to her persistence in speaking up at past council meetings.

Harris lost despite endorsement from council Chairwoman Suzan Wilson and Councilors Jerry Favreau, Tucker and Knight, and former Councilor Joanne King.

A member of the school advocacy group Brunswick Community United, Millett was endorsed by at-large Councilor Benet Pols.

He said Millett will help change the status quo.

"Over the course of many years she has pushed back politely and firmly ...," Pols wrote on a web page that has been since removed. "Jane has repeatedly questioned cases in which the town made questionable real estate or financial decisions and has always urged us to be more transparent in our decision-making."

Despite the slim margin, Harris conceded and said she will not call for a recount. She called the low turnout for her district "disturbing."

"I'm sorry that I did not prevail," Harris said, "but I certainly am proud of the campaign I ran and was really overwhelmed from the support I got."

She attributed her loss to her short time living in town and Millett's connections to the school system.

Ellis, 45, earned a second term on the School Board after what he called a tough campaign against Watson. 

"I knew that going into yesterday that voter turnout would be light," he said, "but I'm wholly appreciative of the people who helped work with me to get the word out about the campaign."

Ellis said he looks forward to continuing to work on school facilities issues, budget restraints created by unreliable state revenue, and academic achievement, especially for economically disadvantaged students.

"There is still a very significant population that is not achieving proficiency," he said, "and we need to continue to work to make that group smaller and smaller every year."

Ellis was endorsed by Pols, Tucker and Brunswick Community United.

Watson, who was endorsed by Favreau, did not respond to a request for comment.

But on a Facebook post Tuesday night, he attributed his defeat to the low voter turnout.

"We ran a clean campaign that we can be proud of," Watson said.

Connors, 67, is the longest-serving member of School Board.

"I'm looking forward to all the hard work," she said.

Connors said she would particularly like to focus on dealing with the future of the former Jordan Acres Elementary School, ongoing budget restraints, and the School Department's growing capacity issues.

"None of the solutions are going to be easy or inexpensive," she said, "so we have to try to make them the best possible to solve the problems and not overtax people."

Connors said she attributes her victory over Hammond to her experience, background and past performance on the board.

Hammond did not respond to a request for comment.

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or dmartin@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.