Blagden, Martin-Savage make selectman

Voters reject changes to downtown project
Posted:  Tuesday, June 13, 2017 - 10:15pm
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Wiscasset on Tuesday elected Bob Blagden and Katharine Martin-Savage to the board of selectmen; chose a challenger over the incumbent for school committee; and rejected the school department’s $1.75 million energy project and changes to the state’s downtown project.

The vote ran 400-323 to reject changes to the  Maine Department of Transportation project. Voters went 329 in favor of the energy project, 384 against. School Committee member Jason Putnam said he was incredibly disappointed. “I’m disappointed that people don’t see fit to maintain our school buildings,” he added. The proposed project involved new lighting and other items department officials said would bring savings and a better learning environment.

Superintendent of Schools Heather Wilmot had no immediate comment on the energy project vote. On the school budget’s passage, Wilmot wrote in a text response, “I am appreciative for the town’s support of the school department’s budget.”

Residents rejected the planning department budget selectmen supported 3-2 and the budget committee recommended against, 6-2. The vote ran 256 in favor, 464 against. Voters kept the school resource officer’s job, 411-315. They decided against giving $1,000 to Midcoast Community Action. 394-311; and 391-328 against giving Spectrum Generations $1,500.

Voters approved repairs including $500 for Scout Hall, $4,000 for the town clock, $2,000 for the Red Brick School House and $200 for the Powder House.

The disorderly house ordinance passed 414-266. And a moratorium on retail marijuana establishments and social clubs passed 402-308. All requests to tap capital reserve passed. The closest vote among those requests was the 373-364 one for $12,000 for new carpeting at the community center.

In election results,  starting with the five-way race for two selectmen’s seats, Kim Andersson got 272 votes; Bob Blagden, 372; David Cherry, 141; Glen Craig, 165; and Katharine Martin-Savage, 358.

Martin-Savage and Blagden thanked voters. “I take it that they liked the message of lower taxes,” Blagden said at the center. Martin-Savage wrote in an email, “I would like to thank voters for their confidence in me and (thank) my friends for their support and generosity. This is a new beginning, and I believe the members of the Board of Selectmen will work (to) do their utmost for the citizens of Wiscasset.”

Andersson said at the center, “I am so grateful to have participated in this process. And congratulations to Katharine and Bob. I know they’ll do a great job. We have a great town–thanks, everybody.”

In the two-way race for one school committee seat, incumbent Chelsea Taylor received 243 votes; challenger Michelle Blagdon won with 338.

Among Tuesday’s voters was Marian Cromwell, who brought grandson Timothy Peaslee with her. It took most of their trip en route to the community center for him to understand they were going to vote, not see a boat, she said, smiling, as Peaslee looked into the turtle tank in the lobby after his grandmother left the polls in the senior center.

Pam Logan spent Tuesday afternoon and evening near the Wiscasset Community Center parking lot, with signs supporting a yes vote on the question to reject changes to the downtown project. She said she was there from 1 to 4 p.m., then went to Ames Supply for a case of water and Quik Mart for ice, and returned to stand by the signs again at 4:30 p.m. “When I was here earlier, someone gave me a bottle of water, which I really appreciated,” Logan said.

A note on the ballot with the downtown project question states in part, “MDOT is not necessarily bound by a town meeting vote on the design of its project.” During the final hour of voting, Logan said she hoped a yes vote would bring MDOT to the table to negotiate. The Public Advisory Committee has been meeting with MDOT as planning continues toward a 2018 start to the project.