WINDHAM – By a 4-1 margin, the ticket of Teresa Sadak and Michael Reynolds, who were running together on a “positive government” platform in Raymond’s Board of Selectmen race on Tuesday, defeated incumbent Charley Leavitt and former Selectman Dana Desjardins.

The two will serve three-year terms.

Sadak, who runs a child-care service in Raymond and will be the lone female voice on the board that has been dominated by men in recent years, served on the Raymond School Board prior to consolidation with Windham in 2008 as well as one year afterward. She is looking forward to working on the municipal side of local government.

“I’m overwhelmed and excited,” Sadak said Wednesday morning. “It was a huge statement from the people of Raymond. I didn’t expect to have the numbers so high and that much of a difference in the vote total.”

Sadak stood outside in the wet weather Tuesday from 8:15 a.m. to 8 p.m. greeting voters. Sadak said many people voluntarily said they were out to make a change to the board’s composition.

“People said they’re sick of it. They’re just sick of it,” Sadak said referring to what she described as a constant negativity, lack of unity on the board and a backlog of business that needs to get done.

Reynolds, who has served nine years on the board, was similarly impressed with the turnout, which Town Clerk Louise Lester said was unusually high for an election featuring no state measures or major local referendums.

“I’m very happy, very humbled. It was a very humbling day at the polls and watching all of the people come through and talking about making a change,” Reynolds said.

Leavitt and Desjardins weren’t surprised by the results, saying they thought it would be hard to withstand an onslaught of advertising by Sadak and Reynolds, which was partly paid for by two prominent politicians in town, Joe Bruno and Frank McDermott.

Leavitt credited the campaign, which he described as a “McBruno SuperPac,” with removing him from the seat on the board that he has held for four years.

“I’ll still call it the McBruno ticket because that’s what I really feel it was,” Leavitt said referring to Reynolds’ and Sadak’s campaign. “And I believe it answered two of my questions. One was, can a SuperPac buy an election? I believe we’ve answered that question as yes. And two, how much will it cost? It’s set a baseline for future electoral politics in Raymond.”

When contacted for comment, Bruno, who is also a long-serving selectman, said Tuesday’s result should help board cohesion in coming years.

“To me, there’s no doubt in my mind that things will be more civil, and I think we’re going to get a lot more done. I just have no doubt about that at all,” he said.

The longtime pol, who has served as chairman of Maine’s Republican Party and minority leader in the Maine House of Representatives, was impressed with the lopsided result on Tuesday.

“The way I look at it is when you only get 21 percent of the vote, you did something wrong. It sent a strong message, I would say. People in Raymond don’t want that kind of politics,” he said.

Desjardins was also expecting to lose after seeing the signatures of about 250 Raymond residents in local newspaper ads supporting Sadak and Reynolds. While those ads and lawn signs cost about $2,000, Reynolds said, Desjardins said he spent about $25 on the campaign using old campaign signs and duct tape.

“I had no intentions of coming out of this with a win. But I made them spend over $2,000,” Desjardins said.

Desjardins was crying foul on Election Day, however, sending emails to town officials criticizing ballot clerks who had signed their names on the newspaper ads in support of Sadak and Reynolds.

“Ballot clerks actively campaigning putting their names on an ad paid for by my opponents and they want to go count ballots and work the election? I think it may be legal, but it’s not ethical,” he said.

Desjardins said his contention “has nothing to do with their honesty or integrity. If you want to campaign for somebody, I have no problem with that. But don’t go volunteer – actually they’re paid – to be ballot clerks. You shouldn’t be doing both.”

Louise Lester, Raymond’s long-serving town clerk who has a reputation of being no-nonsense, took umbrage to Desjardins’ claim Wednesday morning.

“It reflects on me, so I do take it personally to some degree,” she said. “Everything I do, I do by [Title] 30-A, which is the municipal statute for elections, and [Title] 21-A, which is state. And it’s very well spelled out how I get my clerks, how I swear in my clerks and how the clerks behave and do their jobs. And I have a great bunch of people who are dedicated and I have total and complete confidence in them.”

When asked if the clerks should have put their names on the ad, Lester said, “I think that’s a First Amendment right. I think it’s up to the individual whether they want to state their preferences before the election. As a town clerk, I don’t believe there’s any way I can tell them not to do that.

“And I think Dana’s contention is that I could have picked people who didn’t [put their names in the ad]. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have an opinion. Everybody who works at an election has an opinion. So whether they state it in public, in print or any other way, I don’t see how I can possibly keep them from working, especially when we desperately need election workers.”

Leavitt said the issue is an example of how Raymond lacks policies that dictate how operations run.

“Louise is a pretty savvy town clerk. I think she understood the potential for a conflict. I think Dana has an absolutely legitimate point – to have individuals who are elected or appointed to be fair witnesses or people that the community is expecting to be a neutral party,” she said. “Nobody is saying they can’t have an opinion, that they can’t put signs out front of their house, but once they went on the record supporting Mike and Teresa, that’s…an appearance of conflict of interest. And that’s when you would expect people to self-regulate and either say, I’m sorry I’m not going to sign it because I’m counting votes that night, or to say, I will sign it and I’m going to recuse myself [from being ballot clerk]. That’s all. I don’t think it’s that complicated.”

Reynolds and Sadak, on the other hand, believe Leavitt and Desjardins’ criticism is baseless and illustrates why voters decided in a landslide to remove them from office.

“You’re accusing people you live with in your own town that have done this for years of being unfair or possibly jeopardizing [the election],” Sadak said. “What they didn’t say was, yes, their names were on that advertisement but there was another ballot clerk who was there who had signs in his front yard for Dana. So I believe this comment about the ballot clerks is completely unfounded and unfair. And Dana and Charley could have had anybody up there watching the whole thing and they didn’t.”

Reynolds was likewise offended by the charges.

“There’s a difference between outward support of somebody and being a volunteer and having integrity in your job. And if our town has gotten to the point where you can’t voice an opinion and still have integrity, that bothers me,” Reynolds said. “There’s no way a ballot clerk could sway an election 300 some-odd votes when it’s an electronic counting machine provided by the state. It’s conspiracy theory. How could you complain about that after seeing the results? It can’t conceivably have been an issue. And to question our volunteers’ integrity, I’m speechless. But this is an ongoing issue and it’s exactly what the voters voted yesterday.”


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