HALLOWELL — After winning reelection to the Regional School Unit 2 school board Tuesday, Dawn Gallagher said Friday she will step away from the board in January and decline to be sworn in for another, triggering a city policy that prompts the mayor to appoint a new board member.

Gallagher won reelection to a three-year term over Peter Spiegel by a 340-273 vote on Election Day.

But Gallagher said in September that she would drop out and endorse Spiegel. Having served on the RSU 2 Board of Directors since 2008, she said then that she entered the race because no one had taken out papers when she went to City Hall.

“I applaud Peter for stepping forward,” Gallagher said in September. “I fully endorse him.”

But it was too late for her name not to appear on the ballot, and Gallagher won reelection. On Friday, she said she would decline to be sworn in when her term resets in January.

Other board members, however, said their terms begin immediately after they are elected.

Jon Lambert and Linda Leet, board members from Farmingdale, said their term begins at the next meeting after being elected. Lambert said he is sworn in after Farmingdale’s annual town meeting and at the next school board meeting after his election.

The Kennebec Journal reported Tuesday that Gallagher, who has served on the board since 2008, was not expected to take over the post. However, Hallowell City Clerk Diane Polky said Thursday that she expects Gallagher to serve on the school board, adding that she told her she would drop out, but never formally did so.

Polky said candidates sign a consent form stating that they will take the position if they are elected.

“She has won the election free and clear,” she said Thursday. “I’m expecting her to take the office.”

As of noon Friday, Polky said Gallagher had not been sworn in to office. She said Gallagher would need to be sworn in before taking part in the next school board meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday.

In a subsequent phone call, Gallagher said she may be mistaken about the terms, but her plan, broadly, is “to step aside in the not-too-distant future.” She said her decision to step away from the board is complicated, because she doesn’t want to disappoint the voters that elected her and she signed a consent form that obligated her to serve if elected.

“This is not an easy decision — to decide what’s in the best interest of the citizens of Hallowell and the kids,” Gallagher said. “Before I make that decision, I want to do it carefully. Until the city can determine what their course of action should be … I do not feel I should resign. Hopefully, their analysis and decision can be done as soon as possible.”

Spiegel said Thursday that he thought it was “great” that Gallagher wanted to continue to serve. When asked what he made of the situation after Gallagher publicized her intent to drop out of the race, Spiegel said she was a well-known candidate in Hallowell and “not everyone reads the Kennebec Journal and that’s the way it goes.”

If Gallagher did not wish to serve, Polky said, she would have to resign from the position. The vacancy would then be filled by Mayor Mark Walker and confirmed by the City Council, according to the city’s charter. The charter states that “the member so elected shall serve until the next regular or special municipal election when the vacancy shall be filled.”

Polky said the next municipal election is scheduled for November 2020.

Walker was not available for comment on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday. City Manager Nate Rudy said Walker was out of the country.

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