SCARBOROUGH — Political newcomers Paul Johnson and Donald Hamill on Election Day defeated incumbent Councilor Robert “Will” Rowan and John “David” Dittmer for two seats on the Town Council.
Johnson led with 5,152 votes, according to unofficial results, followed by Hamill, who received 4,674. Rowan, who was seeking a second term on the council, finished a close third with 4,060 votes. Dittmer trailed with 3,882 votes.
Hamill and Johnson were both supported by Road to Renewal, a grassroots group that led the campaign to recall three School Board members last spring.
Rowan could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
The other seat is now held by Councilor Christopher Caiazzo, whose term is also expiring. Caiazzo on Tuesday won election to the state House of Representatives in District 28.
Hamill, who is semi-retired, said Wednesday that he was “elated” by Tuesday’s turnout and results.
He said he was encouraged by the diverse combination of candidates for open seats on both the council and Board of Education.
“I think they were all motivated by ensuring the public has greater input and decision-making,” Hamill said. “I’m encouraged by this and I hope the new council will be receptive to it.”
Hamill said the council’s priority should be “getting their arms around debt and a spending problem,” first by focusing on the proposal for Scarborough Downs. He said he sees potential strategic benefits to the tax increment financing package that could produce tax breaks of up to $81 million, but also had serious concerns regarding its financial implications to the town.
He encouraged residents to stay informed and voice their opinion on the matter.
“We’re going to factor that into our decision-making,” Hamill said. “A more robust process with better input and participation will lead to better outcomes.”
Johnson, who was one of the leaders of the Road to Renewal, said he was exhausted after a long Election Day, but excited. During his campaign, he said he decided to run because he saw citizen input was often stifled by the council, causing a divide between the government and public.
“There’s been a lot of competition in town,” Johnson said. “My competition are now my constituents, but I am ready, willing and able to make the switch.”
His top priority is further familiarizing himself with the Scarborough Downs credit enhancement agreement.
“I’m thrust into one of the biggest decisions the town’s ever made,” Johnson said, noting that, from what he’s seen there “doesn’t seem to be an indication that the town would be protected if things go wrong or there’s an economic downturn.”