City Councilor Sean Paulhus speaks with a voter at Bath Middle School Tuesday afternoon. Paulhus is running as a Democrat for the House District 52 seat. (Nathan Strout / The Times Record)

BATH — Bath voters elected Bath City Councilor Sean Paulhus, a Democrat, to the state legislature in the House District 52 special election Tuesday.

“It feels great. I’m very excited to represent my home town up in Augusta and I’m ready to get to work for the citizens of Bath,” Paulhus said after votes were counted.

Paulhus defeated his Republican opponent, retired US Navy Capt. Kenneth Sener, drawing nearly twice as many votes as his opponent. Paulhus claimed 975 votes to Sener’s 491.

In a previous interview with The Forecaster, Paulhus said he would continue to serve on the council if elected to the House.

Paulhus told The Forecaster that he hoped to address health care access and costs, because “the cost of health care and insurance is always one that affects everybody at all levels.”  He also said he hopes to address the state’s aging infrastructure — specifically roads and bridges. 

The House District 52 seat, which covers all of Bath, has been empty since former Rep. Jennifer DeChant resigned the position Feb. 1. DeChant gave up her seat just months after she won reelection to her fourth and final term in the Maine House of Representatives to take a position with a telecommunications company.

“I think it was a fair race,” said Sener. “I certainly appreciate the support I got from all corners.”

Voter turnout was far lower than it was in the November general election, when 4,216 of 7,155 registered voters cast ballots. Just 1,474 people voted in Tuesday’s special election.

Some Bath residents also came out to vote in the Ward 4 special election to fill a vacant city council seat.

There was only one name on the ballot for that race, former Coastal Journal Managing Editor Raye Leonard, and she received 164 votes.

Leonard previously told The Times Record that she expects to work issues impacting Ward 4 that include the extension of natural gas, the new high school and new sidewalks.

The Ward 4 seat has been vacant since former City Councilor Bernard Wyman passed away in late January. Wyman won his first election to the Bath City Council in 1994 and went on to serve 24 years on the council. Wyman had just been re-elected to his ninth consecutive three-year term on the council in November.

Ward 4 covers the area from roughly the Kennebec Tavern to the intersection of North Street and Front Street. From there, it stretches westward across the city in a jagged, lightning bolt-shaped strip to the Wing Farm property on the other side of the municipality. The area includes the Bath Family Y, the Patten Free Library and the site where the Regional School Unit 1 is building a new structure to house its high school and the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center.

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