Scott Ohman won last week’s election for Waterboro road commissioner, but he’s not happy.

Neither is his opponent, Douglas Foglio, who suffered a narrow defeat.

Then there are the selectmen, other town officials and the incumbent road commissioner, Fred Fay, who was hoping to retire. They’re all less than thrilled with the outcome.

The reason? It turns out that Fay’s three-year term doesn’t expire until next year. That forced the town to invalidate the election to replace him.

“We kind of struck out on this one,” said Dennis Abbott, chairman of the selectmen. “We have a lot of egg on our face.”

No one in town has been able to explain how the error occurred, but at some point in late winter, the town clerk’s office put out nominating papers for road commissioner, even though Fay was elected to a three-year term in 2008.

Ohman, who is Fay’s stepson and runs a septic business with him, took out papers, as did Foglio, who is an excavator. Both have done work for the road commissioner.

Fay apparently was unaware that his term wasn’t ending. He couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

The road commissioner can be pretty influential in a small town — with responsibility for making sure potholes get filled, roadside ditches are dug, brush is cut back and other repairs are made.

When voters went to the polls June 8, Ohman apparently won, 744-732. A recount was scheduled for Tuesday — until the selectmen discovered the error late last week and threw out the election.

That decision was announced at Waterboro’s town meeting Saturday, along with an apology from Abbott.

Town Administrator Nancy Brandt said Tuesday that she can’t figure out what happened. Town Clerk Kerry Thorne is off this week and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Both candidates said that campaigning for the post, going through the election and the ballot-counting, then having the results thrown out left a bad taste.

“It’s probably the biggest black eye Waterboro ever had,” Ohman said.

“There’s a lot of unanswered questions,” said Foglio, who feels bad for himself, Ohman and the voters.

“They expected that their vote was going to mean something,” he said. “This has made a mockery of the election system.” Abbott said the selectmen feel bad, too, but they had to throw out the election. Even if Fay were to resign, Abbott said, the town would have to reopen the filing period and hold a special election.

Ohman said his stepfather, who’s 72, is ready to step aside, but won’t leave the part-time post before his term is up — even though he thought it already was.

Abbott said selectmen will likely offer to reimburse the candidates for their campaign expenses. Both Ohman and Foglio said they spent about $1,000 or less, mostly for advertising and signs.

“For somebody who lives week to week, like most people, that’s a lot of money,” Ohman said. “For someone like myself, to put myself through that and put my family through that, it’s very disappointing, to say the least.”

Foglio said, “It’s a complicated thing, small-town politics.”

Abbott said selectmen are expected to meet over the next few weeks to see if they can figure out what happened and make any changes that are needed to avoid a recurrence.

 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: [email protected]