AUGUSTA — Write-in candidate Chris Clarke was elected Tuesday to represent Ward 2 on the Augusta Board of Education.

Clarke was elected with 109 votes, to fellow write-in candidate Sara Squires’ 95 votes, according to vote tallies released by Roberta Fogg, city clerk, early Wednesday morning.

“I’m feeling great. I feel like Ward 2’s voters have spoken, and they’re fed up with the budget cuts, and they’re ready for change,” Clarke said Wednesday. “They’re ready to put Augusta’s youth first and build the future of Augusta, and I look forward to doing that with them.”

Augusta voters also approved two bond issues that authorize the city to borrow funds. Both passed easily.

One allows the city to borrow $870,000 for fire safety apparatus purchases — more specifically, $675,000 for a new firetruck, to replace a 1994 truck; and $195,000 to buy a new ambulance, to replace a 2010 ambulance.

It was approved by a vote of 2,646-1,059.


The other allows the city to borrow $1.16 million for paving and other work on city streets, sidewalks and facilities. Projects proposed to be paid for with that money, according to the city’s capital improvement plan, include $350,000 for the reconstruction of Cedar Street; $400,000 for paving of city streets; $135,000 for “mill and fill” resurfacing projects on North, Cony, and Bridge streets; and $250,000 to reconstruct Leavitt Road.

That was approved by a vote of 2,909-805.

Neither of those borrowing proposals is expected to increase property taxes, as the bonds would be paid back with proceeds in taxes from natural gas pipelines and other taxable natural gas infrastructure in the city, collected in the city’s natural gas tax increment financing, or TIF, account. TIFs allow municipalities to collect property taxes generated by new development and dedicate it to specific uses allowed under state law, including infrastructure, downtown revitalization, public safety equipment or economic development projects. By sheltering such money in a TIF, municipalities avoid reduction in state aid to education and other negative tax effects.

Augusta’s results were reported shortly before 1 a.m. Wednesday, which was well after most local municipalities had finished counting and reporting their election results.

Fogg said part of the delay was a result of the extra time required to hand-count write-in votes in two races.

Two vote-counting machines failed briefly during Election Day, but both were put back online after a short time. One stopped working briefly at Buker Community Center when its battery died and the outlet it was plugged into didn’t have power. It was returned to use after it was plugged into a working outlet. Another machine, at City Center, went down briefly when a ballot got stuck inside it. A backup machine was used until the paper jam was cleared.


“From every election there are opportunities for improvement. We use those as training tools for the upcoming election,” said Fogg, noting the city’s poll workers are dedicated people who give of themselves and work long hours every election. “There is a lot of paperwork and process, and sometimes that takes longer, especially when (workers) have been at the polls since 5:30 in the morning and it’s late at night.”

No candidate took out nomination papers to be listed as an official candidate on the ballot for the Ward 2 school board seat, so it became a race between two write-in candidates, Squires and Clarke.

Clarke, 30, a bus driver and football coach who lives on Eastern Avenue, said during the campaign he would advocate for more funding for schools. He said the city’s youth are its future and he would think of them first when making decisions on the board.

Clarke said it was a hard-fought, intense campaign. He thanked Rep. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta, for serving as a mentor to him. He encouraged parents and other constituents to become active in the school system and at school board meetings.

Squires said Wednesday she does not plan to ask for a recount, despite the relatively small, 14-vote losing margin in Ward 2, where 1,013 ballots were cast. Of those ballots, 762 were left blank in the area where a candidate’s name could be written in, and 47 were write-in votes for neither Clarke nor Squires.

Squires said she was curious about whether some of those 47 write-ins were for her or Clarke but couldn’t be counted because they weren’t filled out properly. Even so, she said she does not plan to contest the results.


“The results are the results, I have no questions or concerns about the work done by the clerk’s office,” Squires said. “Chris won. He ran a great campaign. It was a fun experience for me. I think running as two write-ins and trying to get your name out there was an uphill battle for both of us. I think Chris did a good job and I think he’ll do a good job on the board. I wish him well.”

The Ward 2 Board of Education seat now is held by Deborah Towle, who will be forced from the seat by the city’s term limits rule, which restricts school board members to three consecutive three-year terms.

Running uncontested, and all re-elected, were incumbent Jennifer Day, at-large city councilor; incumbent Linda Conti, Ward 1 councilor; Edward Hastings, chairman of the Board of Education; and Jason Bersani, at-large school board member.

Eric Lind was the only candidate on the ballot for a Ward 4 council seat, though resident Joyce Grondin announced, days before the election, she was running as a write-in candidate. Lind won the seat with 847 votes. Grondin received 24 votes.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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