WESTBROOK — Democrat Mike Foley will make a return to the City Council after two years, replacing the longest standing councilor in the seven-member group.
On Tuesday, Foley bested Republican Deb Shangraw, capturing close to 60 percent of the vote (4,446 to 2,966) in the two-way race for the At-Large seat currently held by John O’Hara, who did not seek re-election after serving since the 1990s.
In Ward 4, Gary Rairdon, a councilor since 2013, fought off a challenge from Isabel Mullin by 28 votes, 698-670. Anna Turcotte was uncontested for the Ward 3 council seat.
City Clerk Angela Holmes said turnout was higher than the gubernatorial race in 2014. Tuesday 8,613 voters (65 percent of the registered voters in the city heading into the election) cast ballots, including close to a third, or 2,790, by absentee ballot. Holmes said in 2014, 7,718 ballots were cast, 1,584 as absentee.
Foley served on the City Council from 2006, shortly after his graduation from Westbrook High School, until 2016 when he did not seek reelection.
“I am excited after a two-year break to return to the council and am happy the voters have overwhelmingly supported me in my return,” Foley said while monitoring returns Tuesday night at The Daily Grind on Main Street. “I am looking forward to acting on the important issues facing the city.”
His goal for his second tenure on the council is “to meet the needs of the city while making it affordable to everyone.”
Shangraw said her first run for political office has overall been a positive experience.
“Running the campaign, meeting people and having this experience was really fun,” she said.
Shangraw said she would not rule out another run for political office.
It was Foley’s previous council experience that made Ward 4 voter Cheryl Oliver and Ward 3 voter Nate Dyer cast their votes for Foley.
“I’ve always liked him. He has been on the council and I agree with most of what he has done,” Oliver said at the polls Tuesday.
Dyer said he felt more comfortable casting his vote for Foley after serving with him on a city board five years ago.
“I served with him on the Comprehensive Plan committee and I thought he did a great job. I know his track record,” he said exiting the polls at the Westbrook Armory on Stroudwater Street.
Word of mouth earned Shangraw Ward 2 voter Allen Vaughan’s vote.
“I know some people at my church were voting for her, so I thought I would too,” he said.
Party affiliation was an important factor to Oliver in the Ward 4 race. Oliver backed Mullin, who earned the Ward 4 nomination of the Westbrook Democratic City Committee, over Rairdon, who is unenrolled. Mullin also captured the endorsements of key Democrats in the city, including councilors Brendan Rielly and Ann Peoples, who on Tuesday was elected to the statehouse again, and Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, who was uncontested in his re-election bid.
Rairdon said he relied on his friends and family to help him through the campaign and spent nearly all of Election Day greeting voters at the polls at Westbrook Community Center.
“I knew it was going to come down to the wire,” Rairdon said at a gathering Tuesday night with his supporters at Mr. Bagel on Main Street. “I don’t take anything for granted. I have lost (close) before. It is not a good feeling.”
In 2011, Rairdon lost to Dorothy Aube in the Ward 4 race by 38 votes.
“I am not contemplating a recount. The fact it was as close as it was is a testament to the Ward 4 voters who paid close attention and came out to vote,” Mullin said.
Rairdon said he hopes Mullin has an “opportunity to represent the city in some fashion” in the future.
She said she does intend to stay involved in the community and would like to focus on the less fortunate population, including some of the homeless families she met along the campaign trail.
New councilors will be sworn in prior to the Dec. 3 city council meeting.
Michael Kelley can be reached at 780-9106 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mkelleynews.
Incumbent Gary Rairdon thanks Bobby Davis after Davis serenaded him with a harmonica melody Tuesday morning outside the polls at the Westbrook Community Center. Rairdon was the victor in the race for the Ward 4 City Council seat by fewer than 30 votes.
Mike Foley, right, checks for updated vote totals with City Council President Brendan Rielly at the Daily Grind Tuesday night. While other contested local races in Westbrook were close, Foley cruised to a victory at the polls, defeating Deb Shangraw by close to 1,500 votes.
Voters from Ward 3 wait to get ballots to cast their votes for local, county, state and federal offices Tuesday at the Westbrook Armory. Voter turnout was high, with 65 percent of registered voters, taking part by voting either in person or absentee.