Vote totals were neither completely in nor confirmed, but House District 11 Democratic candidate Deanna House of Lee conceded defeat to Republican rival Beth Turner of Burlington in a special election on Tuesday to see who would replace the late Rep. Everett W. McLeod Sr., R-Lee, who died on Dec. 20.
“It’s disappointing but we ran a strong race and there hasn’t been a Democratic winner here for a while,” House said Tuesday. “I felt everybody did a great job and it was awesome for me to have a chance to do this. This was something that came up and I was very passionate about doing it.”
In unofficial vote totals compiled by the Bangor Daily News, Turner had 684 votes to House’s 549, with Republican write-in candidate Phil Merletti of Lee receiving 103 votes. These totals do not include Drew Plantation, Woodville or Township 31.
The district includes portions of Penobscot, Washington and northern Hancock counties.
House, 50, and Turner, 52, were nominated by their parties, and Merletti, a 67-year-old tea party member and constitutionalist, is a write-in candidate who has challenged the GOP’s nomination of Turner.
Polling was described as slow but steady for most of the day. According to the Bangor Daily News totals, Turner carried Burlington, Chester and Lee, while House earned the most votes in Winn and Springfield.
Turner probably had greater name recognition among voters than the other candidates, House said.
Turner has more than 20 years of experience in elected positions. For 15 years she served on the SAD 31 board of directors, including several years as chairwoman, and just finished a term as a selectwoman in Burlington, where she remains the town’s deputy treasurer and also works as a photographer.
House teaches Spanish at Stearns and Schenck high schools in the Katahdin region and helps her husband, Paul House, run a retreat for injured servicemen.
Merletti is a retired U.S. Army sergeant first class who for 19 years worked for the Maine Department of Corrections and Department of Human Services helping foster children.