Mayor-elect George Lapointe, left, and challenger Maureen AuCoin chat on stage Friday during a recount of the mayoral race in Hallowell City Hall. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

HALLOWELL — A recount in Hallowell’s mayoral election Friday widened the margin of victory for mayor-elect George Lapointe, but not by much.

The City Council chairperson received 860 votes, holding off a challenge from City Councilor Maureen AuCoin, who had 857 votes.

On Election Day, unofficial results showed Lapointe had defeated AuCoin 860 to 858. A total of 74 voters left the question blank. AuCoin called for a ballot inspection and recount the following week. Candidates inspected 106 ballots last week ahead of Friday’s recount.

The recount began at 9 a.m. on Friday in the City Hall auditorium, with volunteers and representatives for the candidates spaced apart, and concluded around 1:30 p.m. Results came in about an hour later, yielding a confirmation of Lapointe’s win and the loss of one vote for AuCoin. An extra blank ballot was added to the total, bringing it to 75.

City Clerk Diane Polky said one ballot was disputed, and a vote for AuCoin was counted as a blank. Polky said the ballot had an “overvote” where more than one candidate was voted for in a race. In this case, Polky said, the vote was counted for AuCoin on Election Day.

In the event that a number of ballots that could affect the election’s outcome were disputed, those ballots would be logged as votes for a candidate. Polky said since there was only one disputed ballot and a two-vote margin, it was counted as a blank.

Ballots are sorted into piles of 50, at right, before being tabulated, at left, during recount of the mayoral race Friday in Hallowell City Hall. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Lapointe said the recount went smoothly and thanked city staff and poll volunteers for helping with the recount.

“It … showed how good our voting process is in Hallowell,” he said. “I am relieved, honored, and am starting to plan for all the work ahead.”

AuCoin said Friday night she was disappointed not to be elected, but proud of both her own and Lapointe’s campaigns.

“I hope this process and the outcome reassures citizens of the democratic process,” she said. “The recount numbers were nearly identical to the previous numbers and that speaks highly of the clerk and the election workers and our electoral process. It’s such a great example of the importance of every vote.”

AuCoin also said she planned to “working together for the good of the city” with Lapointe as a city councilor.

Lapointe, an environmental consultant and former commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources, has served on the City Council since 2013.

Lapointe told the Kennebec Journal in September that he was warming to the idea of using a bond to address the city’s backlogged capital expenditures. He said he would look deeper into teaming with other communities to provide certain services, which could reduce costs to the city.

Lapointe also said he would work on the city’s “heart and soul,” the downtown district, including a focus on reducing vacancies. He said surrounding communities, including Augusta and Gardiner, have been able to reduce their vacancies with an economic development position. He said a new deputy assistant clerk position could reduce the strain on City Manager Nate Rudy, allowing him to focus more on economic development.

New Hallowell officials are sworn in during a ceremony shortly after New Year’s Day.

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