WATERVILLE — A recount is underway in the Ward 1 City Council race, while questions remain on whether a controversial ban on plastic shopping bags approved by voters Tuesday will be challenged.

Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro, a vocal opponent of the ban on plastic bags at large retailers, said Wednesday the referendum is being challenged, though City Clerk Patti Dubois said no official requests have been made to City Hall.

Isgro, who did not respond to requests for comment, said in a Facebook post both the recount and the referendum challenge are taking place.

“This is due to both efforts being decided by fewer votes than there were challenged ballots due to faulty voter registrations,” Isgro wrote. “The City Clerk will be discussing these issues with the Secretary of State this afternoon to map the road forward.”

Todd Martin, a representative for the Sustain Mid-Maine Coalition, which spearheaded the bag ban, said Wednesday any effort at a recount “is all talk right now.”

The item was approved by voters 3,052-2,906, which is 51 percent to 49 percent.

“It’s pretty clear Waterville voters supported this effort and passed it at the polls yesterday,” Martin said. “If a recount is requested, we would be happy to participate, though I believe the outcome would remain the same. It seems the mayor and his supporters are trying to limit the voices, particularly of college students, in town, which I think is wrong.”

Earlier this week, Dubois said 149 absentee ballots from Colby College students were challenged by a group including Republican candidate for the Maine House, Mark Andre, on grounds the addresses don’t stand up to voter registration requirements.

The challenged ballots would be examined in the case of a recount, though it’s unlikely they would affect the Ward 1 race.

Nearly all Colby students live on campus — either in the downtown dormitory at 150 Main St. or the main campus on Mayflower Hill Drive — which would make them residents of either Ward 3 or Ward 6.

According to the city charter and state law, any candidate for municipal office can submit a written request for a recount within seven days of an election, which would require the clerk to recount the ballots.

There is no requirement for a monetary deposit in races where the combined vote for the candidates is 1,000 or less or the difference shown by the official tabulation is 2.5 percent or less.

Dubois said she believes the process would be the same for the referendum question, but she plans to meet with the city attorney Thursday to discuss the process for both that and the Ward 1 race.

In the Ward 1 race, Democrat Michael Morris defeated Republican Catherine Weeks by four votes, 346-342, on Tuesday.

“The formal paperwork has been submitted and there will be a recount because there is a four-vote difference,” Weeks said.

Earlier Wednesday afternoon, Morris said he had not been notified there would be a recount but said he supports the process.

“I don’t know what the rules are, but I would imagine a four-vote victory would warrant some sort of review,” he said. “If I was in that situation, I would probably ask for the same thing.”

The ban on plastic shopping bags at retail stores of 10,000 square feet or more is scheduled to go into effect April 22, which is Earth Day.

The ordinance is aimed at reducing the amount of plastic waste generated and prohibits the large stores from distributing plastic shopping bags, either for free or a fee. Stores can provide paper bags for free or for a fee to the customer.

Similar ordinances also were approved Tuesday by voters in Camden, Damariscotta and Newcastle, adding to a growing list of Maine communities banning plastic bags.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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