BELFAST, Maine — With just over half the votes counted, the municipal election of three City Councilors and the recall of two other councilors was too close to call.
Preliminary unofficial results indicate the Ward 2 incumbent councilor Roger Lee was trailing newcomer Julieta Zeilor, and Lewis Baker had a slight lead over Jeanne Gail in the race to fill an open seat in Ward 5. Marina Delune was unopposed in her race for the Ward 1 seat.
The attempt to recall incumbent Ward 3 councilor Cathie Heberer and incumbent Ward 4 councilor Jan Anderson was breaking in their favor by a slight margin.
Still uncounted at press time were the approximately 1,600 absentee ballots. Those numbers amount to nearly one-half of the city’s registered voters.
In the Ward 2 race, Zeilor polled 748 votes, Lee had 660 votes and the third candidate in the race, Ernest Howie, had 318 votes.
In the race for Ward 5, Baker received 800 votes, Gail had 620 and Blaine Richardson trailed the field with 317.
Delune topped the ticket with 1,358 votes.
In the recall race, 795 voters opposed recalling Heberer, while 977 voted in favor of the recall. For Anderson, 990 voters opposed her recall, while 950 voted in favor.
The move to recall Anderson and Heberer was mounted by a group of residents angry by their vote to change the zoning on a tract of land that had been designated as suitable for a big-box store.
The 80-acre Special Commercial District had been established by referendum and many in the city were angry that the City Council overturned that vote. The council did so after having established a big-box district its members felt was more suitable for development than the one favored by the voters. Supporters of the recall were able to obtain the 1,200 signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot, but were unable to overcome the city-wide support for Anderson and Heberer.
More than 1,600 absentee ballots were filed in before the election prompting City Clerk Roberta Fogg to rent another vote-counting machine to handle them. Fogg began processing the ballots when the polls opened Tuesday morning and was still tabulating them when they closed two hours after the polls closed.