SKOWHEGAN, Maine — Two new Somerset County commissioners seats were up for grabs in Tuesday’s election. One was won in a landslide and the other could be headed for a recount.
Robin Frost handily defeated fellow Palmyra resident Shane Reitze for the District 3 commissioner’s seat, 1,372 to 574, according to unofficial results compiled by the Bangor Daily News.
The District 5 seat was separated by only 24 votes.
Lloyd Trafton of West Forks beat Andrew Davis of Solon 1,073 to 1,049 after all the votes of Somerset County voters were compiled.
Because the margin is less than 2 percent, Davis has the right to ask for a recount without a required deposit, according to Deputy Secretary of State for Communications Caitlin Chamberlain.
“I would have to think that over,” Davis said Wednesday of a possible recount. “It’s not out of the question as of yet.”
In a charter change that took effect last year, Somerset County added two commissioners seats to its normal three beginning with Tuesday’s election.
“We’ll have two more voices in making decisions,” said Somerset County Administrator Larry Post. “That can be a healthy thing.”
Davis was surprised the vote was so close.
“I thought [Trafton] had pretty good name recognition, being a former game warden,” said Davis. “I was very pleased, to tell you the truth. I’ve never been involved in this aspect of politics before. I was impressed. This is great.”
Trafton thought the race would be hard-fought.
“I figured it was going to be a close race,” said Trafton. “He’s in the southern part, the heavier populated region. I’m kind of up north here. I think that had an effect on it.”
District 5 comprises St. Albans, Ripley, Cambridge, Athens, Harmony, Solon, Brighton Plantation, Bingham, Moscow, Caratunk, West Forks Plantation, Jackman, The Forks Plantation and other unorganized townships.
Even if there is a recount, Trafton doesn’t expect the results to change.
“When we had the jail referendum, the ‘yes’ votes were only 15 over the ‘no’ vote,” said Trafton. “There was a recount done on that. I think the ‘yes’ votes picked up four more votes, something like that. There was no major change.”
If Davis decides to ask for a recount, he has to send in a request to the Secretary of State’s Office in writing. He cannot submit the application until next week, according to Chamberlain.
Frost said he’s eager to represent his district.
“It feels really good,” said Frost. “Not necessarily the winning part, just knowing that so many people in my area have been watching and listening as I’ve been active in the community. It’s a really nice feeling.”
Frost will represent the towns of Detroit, Pittsfield, Palmyra, Hartland and Canaan.
He said towns in his area suffer from slow response times by police and firefighters because the county is so stretched out. He wants to have another station in the area at no cost to the communities.
“Response for a first responder can be quite a while, especially in bad weather,” said Frost, who is a former firefighter.
The new commissioners will take office on Jan. 1.
Also involving the county commissioners Tuesday was a referendum that sought to amend the charter to increase the terms of commissioners from three years to four. Somerset County voters approved the measure 7,393 to 4,313.
Post said the measure was needed because the three-year terms would necessitate odd-year elections. The move to four-year terms would fix that problem.