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- The Forecaster
BRUNSWICK — District 7 Town Councilor Benet Pols on Tuesday defeated William Dana and Byron Watson to be the next at-large councilor.
In the School Board at-large election, newcomer William Thompson defeated incumbent Jack Jones.
Just over 6,500 Brunswick residents cast ballots on Tuesday, or about 44 percent of all registered voters, according to Town Clerk Fran Smith.
Pols received nearly 47 percent of the total in his race with 2,820 votes. Dana came in second, with 1,969 votes, or nearly 33 percent. Watson was third with 1,217, or about 20 percent.
“I have to say I’m pleased at the margins,” Pols said Wednesday morning. He said he expected the race to be much closer.
“I think I really have nonpartisan support,” he said. “I think that race probably showed that.”
Runner-up Dana said he was also expecting the margins to be smaller.
“I thought it might have been a little closer,” he said. “I thought it could’ve gone either way.”
He attributed some of Pols’ success to widespread support from the neighborhood group that opposed the construction of Amtrak’s train maintenance facility between Church Road and Stanwood Street.
Pols’ public stance against the chosen site of the train building was the primary reason that resident Julie Wise cast her vote for him on Tuesday.
She said she liked how Pols stood up at an August forum on the proposed facility and spoke out against the site, while other councilors did not. His outspoken nature and ability to look at the big picture, she said, distinguished him from the other candidates.
“He brings a skill set that’s different than the other two,” she said.
Anna Boll also cited the train facility as a factor, and added that she found Pols to be “open to listening to my concerns” and readily available.
Watson said he wasn’t shocked by the outcome, and had expected the election to “either be a squeaker or I was going to go down.”
He said he faced an uphill battle against Dana and especially Pols, who he said had more time and money to spend on the election.
“When you’re working every day it’s hard to go to doors and shake hands,” Watson said. “I think that the results last night show that an average citizen working paycheck-to-paycheck has little chance in an uphill battle against big money.”
Undeterred, Watson said he “absolutely” intends to run for the council again in the future, but probably not in an at-large race.
Dana said he is unlikely to run again any time soon.
“It’s a big time commitment, and I think probably for now I’m not willing to make that kind of commitment again,” he said.
In the uncontested council races, incumbent Councilor Gerald Favreau was re-elected in District 5 and Sarah Brayman was elected to replace Pols in District 7.
Thompson, who received nearly 63 percent of the votes for the at-large seat on the school board, defeated Jones, 3,092 to 1,838.
He said he thought his background and door-to-door campaign helped him win the race.
“I’m born and raised in Brunswick, I think that had a lot to do with it,” Thompson said, and “the fact that the people of Brunswick want to maintain their academic standards in their schools, but also make sure that property taxes are kept in check.”
Jones said that his opponent campaigned more vigorously than he did, and agreed that Thompson’s history in town undoubtedly worked in his favor.
Thompson’s visibility was a factor for voters Sally and Bill Coonradt, who are new to town. They said they recognized Thompson’s name more than his opponent’s.
Diana Dove noticed her neighbor had a lawn sign for Thompson, which she said convinced her to vote for him.
In the uncontested School Board races, Michele Joyce and James Grant were re-elected in Districts 7 and 5, respectively.
Brunswick voters overwhelmingly supported Question 1, the people’s veto to restore same-day voter registration. More than 68 percent, 4,416 votes, were in favor of the referendum, while less than 32 percent, or 2,072, voted against it.
About 61 percent of voters, 3,920, opposed Question 2, which sought support for slot machines at harness-racing tracks in Biddeford and in Washington County. About 2,500, or 39 percent, voted in support of the question.
Question 3, which asked voters to allow a casino to be built in Lewiston, was rejected by an even wider majority. Just over 69 percent, or 4,465 voters, were against the item and only 31 percent, or 1,997, voted for the casino.
Finally, a majority of Brunswick voters approved Question 4, a constitutional amendment changing the years of redistricting the Maine legislature. About 58 percent, or 3,742, voted in favor of the item, while just under 38 percent, or 2,260, voted against it.
Smith said the 44 percent voter turnout was higher than she expected for an off-year with no statewide or national candidates.
“My feeling is for this type of an election, (44 percent) is really solid for Brunswick,” she said.
Brunswick candidates Bill Dana, right, Byron Watson and Jack Jones, and Dana’s wife Emily, count unofficial results after the polls closed Tuesday at Brunswick Junior High School. All three candidates lost.