Challengers oust incumbents on Bangor City Council

By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff
Posted Nov. 08, 2011, at 9:27 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Bangor voters elected Ben Sprague, Joe Baldacci and James Gallant to the City Council, according to unofficial election results Tuesday night.

The vote denied new terms for two incumbents, Rick Bronson and David Nealley, and instead will bring in Sprague and Gallant, who have no political experience. Joe Baldacci, a former two-term councilor who also has served as mayor, will rejoin the council.

“It’s a little bit of surprise, but not a complete surprise,” Gallant said Tuesday night in a telephone interview from Hero’s Sports Grill in Bangor as he celebrated with friends and campaign supporters. “I think the people of Bangor showed they are ready for a change.”

Gallant is a 31-year-old Bangor native and Husson University graduate who owns a lawn care business and an apartment building.

Sprague, 28, a financial adviser, is a Bangor native who graduated from Bangor High and Harvard University.

Neither man had run for office before.

“The people were really desperate for some new energy and ideas,” Sprague said over the phone after stepping away from a celebration at Nocturnem Draft Haus in Bangor.

Baldacci, the more politically experienced councilor elected Tuesday, said he wasn’t shocked by the shake-up.

“There were eight people running, and I told everybody I thought it would be a free-for-all,” he said while celebrating at Sea Dog Restaurant in Bangor.

Baldacci said the city has momentum and is moving in a positive direction, but needs to continue to keep an eye on health care issues and school budgets while working to boost Bangor’s economy.

Sprague and Gallant said they will bring new energy to the council.

Sprague stressed the importance of using his new seat to find ways to support business and economic development and give young people a reason to stay in the city.

Gallant said the vote results showed the people of Bangor “were looking for young, energetic people who would listen to their concerns.”

The incumbents, Nealley and Bronson, said their support for the construction of the new arena and the proposed Bangor dispatch consolidation, which voters rejected Tuesday, contributed to their losses.

“This really isn’t a good year to be an incumbent,” Nealley said after the vote. He said that groups which fought the arena proposal and the changes to dispatch services staunchly opposed the incumbents.

“Those people who voted have gotten what they voted for,” Bronson said.

The unofficial vote totals were as follows: Ben Sprague, 3,763; Joe Baldacci, 3,412; James Gallant, 2,605; David Nealley, 2,359; Megan Shorette, 2,314; Richard Bronson, 1,803; Frances Loring 1,362; Scott Davis, 968.

To see full election results broken down by town, visit maineelections.bangordailynews.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/11/08/politics/bangor-voters-elect-sprague-baldacci-gallant-pass-table-games/ printed on September 21, 2014