Wiscasset repeals preservation ordinance, elects Dunning, Andersson and Whitfield

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 12:00pm

    In elections Tuesday, Sept. 8, Wiscasset kept Selectman Kim Andersson with 227 votes, brought back Pam Dunning to the board with 233 votes and, with 221 votes, picked former school committee member Sarah Whitfield among the field of six residents who sought three seats. According to a tally sheet Wiscasset Administrative Assistant Kathleen Onorato provided Wednesday, William Maloney lost with 215 votes, former selectman Timothy Merry with 186 and incumbent Ben Rines Jr. with 167.

    Unopposed for another three years on the school committee, Michelle Blagdon was re-elected with 351 votes.

    Voters decided 256-140 to repeal the historic preservation ordinance that established a commission whose actions at times drew controversy. Judy Flanagan’s petition drive got the question on the ballot, first for the annual June town meeting the pandemic scuttled. Flanagan said in a phone interview Wednesday, she was very confident in June the question had the momentum to pass, but going into the September vote she had felt the months-long time lapse made the outcome “iffy.” 

    The repeal showed voters want the town to preserve its historic beauty, but to do it the right way, Flanagan said.

    Commission vice chair Leslie Roberts said word of the repeal was devastating to her. “I’m really saddened today,” she said in a phone interview Wednesday. The panel has worked to improve the process for project applicants, Roberts said. She said she has seen what happens in charming places without safeguards for buildings’ history. “But if there was a petition and the people have spoken, then perhaps this is the will of the people and we just move on with our lives, and hope for the best.”

    She and a resident who contacted Wiscasset Newspaper, Christine Hopf-Lovette, felt the ballot was confusing to have two articles, the second one offering to repeal and replace the ordinance if the repeal question failed. That second question passed 248-145.

    Wiscasset passed all its school budget articles. “I am really pleased with the outcome of the vote,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Terry Wood wrote in an email response Wednesday. “We have not been able to purchase many needed things due to the timing of the election, but staff have been great about making due and we are ready to begin placing our orders for much-needed materials and supplies.

    “I believe that our townspeople truly support the schools and understand the importance of providing our students with a topnotch education that they deserve especially since they are the future workforce of Wiscasset,” Wood added.

    Attached are all the results on the tally sheet Onorato provided.