Davis resignation leaves council with two vacancies

Windham Town Councilor Blaine Davis resigned Tuesday night, leaving the council with two vacancies and raising questions about whether it can work effectively in the coming months.

Davis said he has been working in Brunswick lately, making it difficult to make meetings in Windham on time. He is also almost certainly accepting a position out of state and will be moving within the next two months.

“I can’t thank the people elected me and supported me enough. It has been a great experience,” Davis said in an interview today. While he did not want to end his three-year term early, Davis said the opportunity, which he did not want to disclose, was too good to pass up.

“I’ve got to do what’s best for me,” he said.

Under the town charter, an open position on the council can be filled through an appointment by a majority vote from the remaining councilors. However, the council was unable to come to a consensus on a candidate after Kaile Warren, the North District representative, resigned in December, citing health concerns. If the position is not filled by the council, the remaining year on Davis’ term would be up for grabs in November, when candidates will also vie for the remainder of Warren’s term.

Chairwoman Carol Waig said she thinks the council should fill Davis’ position, but doubts the council can agree on a candidate.

“It is going to be very difficult to conduct business with five councilors,” said Waig in an e-mail. Four votes are needed to approve any motions, Waig said.

Now we are all going to have to agree to get anything accomplished,” she said. “Bad way to do business.”

With first Warren and now Davis leaving the council, only Donna Chapman remains from the bloc of three Republicans who won seats in the 2007 election. The three often voted together, and against the remaining four councilors. The many 4-3 votes created a tight atmosphere, with frequent displays of frustration from both sides.

The frustration hit its peak during the budget review process in the spring of 2008. Davis offered 42 motions designed to cut the spending in the budget, all of which were shot down, mostly by 4-3 votes with the three Republicans on the losing side. When Warren left following a pair of heart attacks, that left Davis and Chapman with one less ally.

“Not having Kaile on the council definitely removed one person that was receptive ideas,” said Davis. “There was a lot we didn’t agree on, but Kaile was at least open to ideas, and that’s something you don’t necessarily have with every councilor.”

Even with all the differences in opinion, Davis said he was surprised that only Chapman and Councilor Liz Wisecup approached him after the meeting to offer their thanks, though Waig did mention Davis’ service during the meeting on air.

“I just think that’s professional courtesy,” Davis said. “It’s just an indication of how it’s been all along.”

Arguments aside, Davis said he enjoyed his time on the council, which was his first foray into town politics. He gave out his e-mail address and cell phone number to residents, and particularly enjoyed hearing from people in town, whether they agreed with him or not.

“The community really has been interactive with me, both positively and negatively,” he said. “Very, very few days went by when I didn’t get a number of phone calls about the council.”

Over the last two years, Davis is thankful that he got a chance to review budgets, looking for savings and efficiencies for the town’s residents. He is proud of his work helping to update the town’s ordinances, a huge undertaking that had stalled a few times in the past. The latest ordinance review committee has created a template for future work in that area, and the outcomes will impact the town for years, Davis said.

Throughout his term, Davis simply wanted people to know he was doing the job the best way he knew how.

“I wanted people to say that I try to put in an effort and I try to do the right thing,” he said. “We may not have agreed, but I think people should be able to say that.”

Windham Town Councilor Blaine Davis resigned this week, citing a job opportunity out of state. The resignation leaves the council with just five voting members.

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