Write-in election ends in rare tie, runoff planned
by Jack Deming
Mar 14, 2013 | 2928 views | 4 4 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WHITINGHAM- In a rare twist to a seemingly commonplace election, candidates Mary Lemaire and incumbent Dwight Williams tied in a write-in race for a position on the Whitingham School Board. On Wednesday, March 27, the town will hold a special runoff election from 10 am to 7 pm at the Municipal Center to break the tie.

Both Lemaire and Williams received 10 votes in the election. According to Will Senning, of the state division of municipal elections, a tie does not happen in an election very often, but when it does it is typically at the local level. Senning also explained that in the event of a tie, if one candidate was to concede within five days, the other would win. This is the only instance in which a candidate dropping out of an election can determine the winner, a rule Senning says was added to election language in 2007.

Because neither candidate is conceding, the town clerk will act as the election official for a runoff vote, a duty which falls in the lap of Almira Aekus, who admits she had to contact the Secretary of State’s office to find out the correct course of action for the town. “I knew it would take as little as nine votes to declare a winner,” said Aekus. “I’m sure this happens very occasionally, but I’ve never run into something like this, and my reaction was ‘I need to check what to do.’”

Elections for selectboard and school board are included in the warning for Town Meeting each year, but because of the circumstances, Aekus was tasked with scheduling the runoff and posting warnings in town.

Lemaire, who said she was surprised by the result of the election, decided to run a write-in campaign after attending an informational school board meeting at which it was announced Williams was not running for reelection. Lemaire has served on the school board before and was asked by residents if she would be willing to run. While Lemaire says that she was hoping for a different collaboration solution then the one passed, the school board has important work ahead of it.

“While we’re making sure the building and renovations are done, but with these beautiful buildings and brand new gym we must focus on education, and make sure it matches the beauty of the building,” said Lemaire.

“My focus would be education. We’re going to have to make sure our education is the best it can be, in order to entice young families into the area. We have tough times competing with the big schools around us so we have to focus on quality since we can’t always afford the quantity, while making sure it’s affordable and taxes don’t go out of sight.”

Williams had intially decided to not run for reelection, but at Town Meeting a number of voters encouraged him to stay. By that time it was too late for Williams to file a petition to be on the ballot, so he decided to wait and see how many write-ins he tallied. Williams initially ran for school board as a write-in candidate and won his current post with approximately a dozen votes.

Williams says he is proud of his time on the board, which included presiding over consolidation efforts with Wilmington.

“I’m proud of our management of the consolidation process,” said Williams. “Everyone set aside the old stigma of Whitingham vs. Wilmington, and I’m proud of the cohesiveness between the two towns’ board members to produce positive results, and focus on education and our mutual long-term education solution.

“The biggest concern is continuing this cohesiveness. We don’t all agree on everything but I’m very concerned because we need to bring informed, not opinionated, people on board to make big decisions.”
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clarence2
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March 15, 2013
The state is actually taking drastic measures to take away local control within the school system. They want larger Supervisory Unions, larger teacher union control by having statewide contracts and benefits , and dropping mandated programs on the system without fair compensation for these added costs.

Local school boards will be looked at as nothing more than an official gathering to authorize the transfer of town funds to pay mandated bills and salaries with no control over their costs.

The state wants to deter people from serving on these boards because of the situations they tend to impose.To the state,school boards are a stepping stone they have to overcome to keep local dollars flowing to Montpelier that they can spend as they see fit.
commonsensenative
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March 15, 2013
I don't know why either one would want the job. Thankless service combined with constant complaints from know it alls that talk out their butt without ever going to a meeting. Couple that with an education system paralyzed by teacher's unions and the state's infinite ed funding wisdom and it's a hopeless mess.
clarence2
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March 14, 2013
Typical small town politics.

I dont want it no more, but I dont want you to have it either.

We need new blood in there. This whole merger has been nothing but a financial fiasco from the opening bell. Our tax rate went through the roof, far more than anticipated or promised, yet all they say is it will go down next year.

valleytruth
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March 16, 2013
taxes going down next year? in the deerfield valley? hahahahahahahahahaha