Alex Stone seeking a recount after a 7-vote loss for his Westbrook School Committee seat.

Political newcomers Anna Turcotte and Steven Berry, both Democrats, won their respective races for City Council and School Committee Tuesday, besting veteran incumbents.

Turcotte beat longtime councilor Paul Emery, also a Democrat, and Republican Susan Rossignol by a wide margin for the Ward 3 City Council seat. Turcotte had 308 votes to 88 for Emery and 83 for Rossignol.

For School Committee Ward 1, Berry beat incumbent Alex Stone by only seven votes, 277 to 270. However, Stone said Wednesday he has already requested a recount, which will take place sometime in the next week.

Some 2,600 residents cast their vote, just 21 percent of the 12,224 registered voters in Westbrook, said City Clerk Angela Holmes.

Emery and Stone, both incumbents, were not nominated at the Westbrook Democratic Committee caucus in August, and in both cases, the candidates were defeated.

Emery was an eight-year council veteran, but his candidacy may have been hurt by lingering feelings centered on controversial comments he made in April about Gov. Paul LePage. While discussing the governor’s tax reform plan at a Democratic town meeting in Scarborough, Emery said his feelings wouldn’t be hurt if LePage “goes to see his maker.” He then said, “In some countries assassination is a political strategy, but unfortunately not in ours.”

Drew Gattine, a state representative from Westbrook and the chairman of the Westbrook Democratic City Committee, said Wednesday that Turcotte ran a “classic, grassroots campaign.”

“She just went out, pounded the pavement, and met as many voters as she possibly could,” he said.

Turcotte had 64 percent of the vote in a three-candidate field.

Gattine said Emery did not come to the caucus in August. Emery did not return calls seeking comment by the American Journal’s deadline Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Turcotte said it has been “an incredible honor to garner 64 percent of the vote” in Ward 3.

“I visited every household, met the majority of the people I will represent and listened to their concerns and aspirations for the city’s future,” she said. “I am thankful for their support and hope to make them proud for the next three years.”

At 14, Turcotte came to the United States an an Armenian refugee from Azerbaijan. She said she was in awe of the American democratic process.

“So, to actually run for office, it has been a meaningful and emotional process for me,” she said.

Stone, also an eight-year veteran, said Wednesday that with such a close margin, he felt it necessary to request a recount. Forty-five ballots were also left blank in the Ward 3 School Committee election, for a total of 592 ballots cast.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said about the election. “I certainly wasn’t considering this a slam dunk for me. But, I think there has to be a recount.”

Berry said Wednesday that he’s “thrilled and excited” by the win, but said he’s waiting until the recount is conducted before officially celebrating.

After Berry received the Democratic nomination in August, Stone went out and collected signatures to run, as well.

“You saw two candidates out there really work hard,” Gattine said.

The remaining races saw similarly close tallies. Republican John O’Hara, the longest-serving city councilor, barely beat Democratic challenger Michael Dobkowski, 1,242 to 1,180 for the at-large City Council seat.

Democrat Suzanne Salisbury beat Republican newcomer Matthew Brunner, 1,269 to 1,039 f,or the at-large School Committee seat.

Westbrook also voted yes on all three state referendum questions: Question 1, 1,515 to 1,102; Question 2, 1,837 to 782; and Question 3, 1,910 to 706.

At the polls Tuesday, former Westbrook Mayor Bill O’Gara was working the election at the Westbrook Community Center. At about 5:30 p.m., he said a more steady stream of voters were filing through, but lines never grew too large.

City Councilor Mike Sanphy, a Democrat, said Wednesday that he’s excited to work with the new elected officials.

“I’m optimistic to work with these people,” he said.

Sanphy added that the feel of this year’s election was different for Westbrook, because it was the first year of the split elections. Prior to a charter change in 2012, all seats for City Council were elected in the same year.

“Sometimes change is good,” he said.

School Committee candidate Alex Stone, the incumbent in Ward 1, stands by the Ward 1 voting area at the Westbrook Community Center Tuesday. Stone lost his seat to newcomer Steven Berry by just seven votes. A recount is expected. Staff photo by Andrew Rice Anna TurcotteSteven Berry


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