THORNDIKE — A longtime selectman was re-elected and a citizen’s petition was defeated at Town Meeting recently.

Voters passed 51 articles and elected five town officers during the Saturday meeting.

Jim Bennett narrowly defeated challenger Jeff Fowler, 88-72, for the position of first selectman, and now enters his 12th term in office.

Voters also defeated, 75-59, a citizens’ petition seeking a forensic audit of the town’s accounts for fiscal years 2009-2010 and 2010-2011.

Bennett said he agreed with the decision.

“Our books are audited every year and there’s nothing wrong,” he said during a telephone conversation. “We just had them audited and they’re real clean … we’ve got a good, healthy surplus.”

Resident Patty Pendergast, a member of a group of townspeople who started the petition, said the call for a forensic audit was in response to the construction of a new town hall and the recent destruction of the old building, which held historic value, she said.

Pendergast contends the two decisions skirted voters’ wishes, and she hoped an audit would shed light on how the town paid for the new town hall. She said the town has ignored two Maine Freedom of Access Act requests for documents.

Bennett brushed aside criticism from the petition’s organizers.

“They’re just unhappy campers,” he said.

In other contested races, voters chose Larry Ward over Jeff Fowler, 82-71, for second selectman, and Lisa Cuvra over Carol Coffin, 71-69, for third selectman.

Voters also amended an article to fund the fire department at $20,755 instead of $13,790, as originally proposed, Bennett said.

In total, voters approved $373,375, an increase of $45,474 over last year. An increase in tax revenues of $21,820 will pay for roughly half of the budget increase, he said.

Ben McCanna — 861-9239

[email protected]

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