LITCHFIELD — Tim LaChapelle was confirmed the winner of a three-year term on the town Select Board after a recount Monday afternoon following an apparent election night win by a 12-vote margin.

One of his competitors in the race, incumbent Rayna Leibowitz, requested a recount of the ballots that were cast during the state primary election a week ago.

Results posted by the town on last Tuesday evening showed that LaChapelle received 195 votes, Leibowitz received 183 and a third candidate, Ken Lizotte, received 131.

There were also a handful of write-in candidates — some more serious than others. Town Road Commissioner Larry Nadeau II received a vote. So did Santa Claus and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

After inspecting and recounting the ballots by hand on Monday, Town Clerk Carman Douglas confirmed the accuracy of the initial results. The counts were exactly the same on Monday as they were last Tuesday.

Douglas organized the recount at the request of Leibowitz, an active citizen who has served two consecutive terms on the Select Board and was running for a third.

Leibowitz, Lizotte and Nadeau attended the recount, which was held in the basement of the Town Office on Monday afternoon. The candidates also inspected the ballots themselves.

LaChapelle, who was sworn in at the Town Meeting on Saturday, did not attend the recount.

The atmosphere of the recount was collegial and light-hearted. Douglas mentioned at one point that she had posted an invite to Donald Trump on the candidate’s public Facebook page.

“I don’t know if it was a legal page,” she said. “But I had to let him know as well as I knew how to.”

Interviewed afterwards, Leibowitz said she was satisfied with the veracity of the election results and the electronic ballot scanner the town has been using for two years, but upset she wouldn’t be serving a third term. She requested the recount in part to check the accuracy of the relatively new machine, she said, but also to ensure that she had received the correct number of votes.

“It was very disappointing,” she said of the eventual outcome. “I wanted to be re-elected. I really enjoyed being on the board and feeling as though I was serving my community well.”

Had there been just two candidates in the race, Leibowitz suggested the result may have been different.

A retired employee of the Maine Emergency Management Agency, Leibowitz initially ran for the Select Board after her mother, Muriel Bonin, served three terms on it and decided to step down. Bonin was about 78 at the time, said Leibowitz, and she baited her daughter into running for the position by threatening to run for a fourth term herself.

“She said, ‘If you don’t run, I will,'” recalled Leibowitz, who is now 69. “That really is what prompted me to run at that time.”

Leibowitz, whose mother died in 2011 at the age of 82, said she now plans to attend Select Board meetings and remain involved with the various other committees and organizations for which she has volunteered.

Lizotte, a retired manager of LePage Bakeries in Lewiston who was new to town politics, also said he was disappointed by the election outcome, but enjoyed the chance to meet residents while he campaigned for the position.

Now that LaChapelle — also a political newcomer — has been confirmed the winner of the selectman’s race, he said in a separate interview that he will propose several changes to the way the Select Board is run.

He maintains that the board could be more transparent in its operations and said he will videotape and record audio at the meetings. He is still deciding the best way to make those videos available to the public, he said.

LaChapelle, a 51-year-old, self-employed real estate developer, also said he would like to institute term limits and expand the Select Board from three to five members, as he feels the current makeup makes it hard for fresh ideas to gain any traction. Each selectman makes an annual stipend of $2,000, but LaChapelle said the change would be worth the investment.

Ahead of the election last Tuesday, LaChapelle posted campaign signs around town and sent a letter to all registered voters outlining his positions. Now that he has been elected, he said he will take his time with his proposals to increase transparency in town government.

“You’ve got to take one big chance at a time,” he said. “I’m going to do my best for the taxpayers that put me there. It won’t be done overnight.”

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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