Wayne Maestri of Westbrook casts a ballot Tuesday at the Community Center. “Just about everyone has worn a mask, which has been great,” City Clerk Angela Holmes said. Chance Viles / American Journal

WESTBROOK — Suzanne Salisbury took nearly 64% of the votes in the House District 35 Democratic primary Tuesday in an election with a record number of absentee ballots due to the pandemic.


Voters also approved the $40.8 million school budget, 3,040 to 503. The budget is up $400,000 or 0.99% over the most recent school year’s budget and includes no tax increase.  

Voter turnout was roughly 28%, City Clerk Angela Holmes said, and absentee balloting outweighed in-person voting in every race.

Salisbury received 814 votes, handily defeating Jim Violette, who received 469. With no Republican in the race, Salisbury is the likely winner in the November election for the seat most previously filled by the late Ann Peoples.

“I worked really hard on this campaign, and even though it was such a strange time to be campaigning, I really put a lot of time and effort into this,” Salisbury said. “I am pleased that Westbrook voters agreed that I am the right candidate.” 

Salisbury is vice chairman of the Westbrook School Committee and chairman of its finance committee. She said she plans to finish out the remainder of her school board term, which ends in December 2021.

Salisbury also runs Westbrook Families Feeding Families and has worked with the Westbrook Children’s Project and the Intercultural Community Center. She and her husband, Joe, are co-owners of The Daily Grind downtown.

She said in a June interview that as a legislator she wants to tackle food insecurity in Maine schools and address sex trafficking in the state. 

Milo Simoneau casts his ballot Tuesday in Westbrook. In-person voting was light, but absentee ballots were plentiful. Chance Viles / American Journal

“I want to thank everyone that came out and supported me, my friends and family with the campaign, it was a group effort,” Salisbury said.

Violette, a former member of the Westbrook Planning Board, Zoning Board, City Council and School Committee, did not return messages for comment by the American Journal’s deadline.

A record 2,682 absentee ballots were cast for Tuesday’s election and in-person voting at the Westbrook Community Center was light, Holmes said Wednesday.

“We’ve blown past our previous (similar) election just with absentee ballots, ” said Westbrook City Clerk Angela Holmes in an earlier interview. “The last primary that we held during a presidential year was June 2016 and we had state primaries and a school budget on there. Total voter turnout was 8.5%; that was just 1,025 total votes.”

Safety precautions were taken in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Poll workers wore face shields and were protected by plastic barriers and hand sanitization stations were set up throughout the voting area.

Every other poll booth was closed and floors were marked to help maintain distancing, and foot traffic was routed to be one way in the voting area.

“People have been really good about wearing their masks and following the queue and social distancing,” Holmes said Tuesday.

Finding poll workers was difficult because of health concerns related to the coronavirus, she said.

“We’ve had an awful time finding people but thankfully the Maine Democratic Party reached out, they didn’t need as many people in other locations, so we have poll workers from places like Gorham and Windham,” Holmes said.

Poll workers can work in different towns as long as they are in the same district, Holmes said.

“A lot of our other staff here is newer, so this is a good chance for them to learn the ropes before Nov.,” Holmes said.

Residents Jacob Murphy, standing at left, and Mikayla Morgan check in with the one of the face-shielded election workers Tuesday. Both voters said they were most concerned with referendum Question 1, approving a bond to pay for infrastructure for high speed internet. “Really, it’s about 5G, and I just feel we’ve become to reliant on technology,” Murphy said. Chance Viles / American Journal



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