m-topelection-010909 Sawyer challenges special election results (drop) Runner-up loses by 1 vote; Trusiani sworn in
TOPSHAM — Results of Tuesday's expedited special election to determine the Board of Selectmen's fifth member are being challenged by second-place finisher Thomas Sawyer.
Sawyer on Tuesday called for a ballot inspection following his one-vote loss to James Trusiani.
Results provided by Town Clerk Ruth Lyons showed Trusiani with 408 votes and Sawyer with 407. James Morris finished with 118 votes, followed by Carol Clark (62), Michael Dumas (42) and Paul Fothergill (nine).
The six candidates were vying to fill a seat won by Paul Bennett in November. But Bennett decided not to serve after it was revealed he'd been convicted of manslaughter in 1996.
The outcome of Tuesday's special election, which attracted 1,050 of Topsham's 7,460 registered voters, could cause further delays.
Despite Sawyer's request for a ballot inspection, Trusiani was sworn in Wednesday. He said he planned to participate in Thursday night's Board of Selectmen meeting.
According to Lyons, the state allows Trusiani to hold the seat until an actual recount is declared. Results of the ballot inspection, which must occur within five days of the election, will determine if a recount is justified.
Trusiani said he is confident Tuesday's result would hold up.
"Whatever has to happen has to happen," he said. "But I feel pretty good that the machine came out right."
At the close of Tuesday's polls, the results showed Trusiani with a two-vote margin. However, six ballots weren't counted, including two rejected by the ballot machine. Both Trusiani and Sawyer agreed that one uncounted ballot should have gone in favor of Sawyer. That left the one-vote margin.
Sawyer acknowledged that a recount could draw out the election, but said he felt compelled to make the request.
"It's too bad because the whole election was to correct a problem," he said. "But I feel obligated to my supporters to go through a ballot inspection, and if necessary, a recount."
Trusiani didn't begrudge his opponent's request.
"The other guy has every right," Trusiani said. "I don't blame him."
Trusiani, who has previously served on the board for six years, said he was accustomed to narrow victories. He said he once won by 22 votes. Another election gave him a 12-vote margin of victory.
Trusiani, who finished third in November's election, said it was important to fill the vacant seat quickly.
"Whenever you have an even number on there, it can be tough," he said.
Lyons wasn't sure when the ballot inspection would occur.