July 18, 2018
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Write-in Democratic candidate for DA gets enough votes to be on ballot, he says

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Updated:

A Bangor lawyer has announced on his campaign Facebook page that he most likely got the necessary write-ins votes Tuesday to have his name on the ballot in November as the Democratic candidate for district attorney in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties.

Joseph Belisle, 36, decided to run as a write-candidate after longtime District Attorney R. Christopher Almy, a Democrat, withdrew his nomination papers from the Maine Secretary of State’s office two days before the March 15 deadline.

“So nothing official yet, but it looks like I will be on the ballot in November,” Belisle posted Thursday. “I’ve been able to get vote totals from town officials in Bangor, Brewer, Orono, Hampden, Old Town, Veazie, Glenburn, Lincoln, Newport, Holden, Milford and Levant, and those put me over the 300-vote threshold.”

The official results won’t be known until next month, when Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap must certify the results. Nearly half of Belisle’s write-in votes were cast in Bangor, according to the unofficial results he compiled.

Almy, 69, of Charleston said in March that he changed his mind about running after he learned Marianne Lynch, a Republican from Bangor who serves as an assistant district attorney in his office, was running for the job.

“Marianne Lynch expressed an interest in running and I encouraged that,” he said the day after the filing deadline. “And I’d just as soon at this point let someone take over the reins.”

Almy, who has been the district attorney since 1985, also said that party affiliation was not an important part of the job.

“From my perspective, the important aspect of running a DA’s office is competence and integrity. Political affiliation is not a factor,” he said.

Democrats in the legal community disagreed and ran a low-key campaign once Belisle came forward to run as a write-in.

A bachelor, Belisle grew up in Bangor and graduated from Bangor High School in 2000. He graduated from the University of Rochester in New York and Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. He has practiced in Bangor since 2008.

“The biggest issues that a district attorney is going to need to address are the opioid epidemic and overcrowded jails,” he said on his Facebook page. “On those fronts, I support increased use of substance abuse services, including our drug court, detox facility and counseling programs. I also support a decrease in reliance on cash bail for minor, non-violent offenses.”

Lynch, 56, of Bangor graduated from Guilford Senior High School in Guilford, Connecticut, Northeastern University and the New England School of Law, both in Boston.

She and her husband, Dr. Robert Hand, have lived in Bangor since the mid-2000s. She was in private practice before joining the district attorney’s office about five years ago. The couple has two grown sons.

A request for comment on Belisle’s most likely qualifying to appear on the ballot was not immediately returned Friday.

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