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.”