I was informed by legal council that a request needed to be made within 5 business days after the election for a new election, due to the errors at the polls in this last election. I officially did so in writing on November 11th, 2011.
When a candidate requested to withdraw from running for town council in District 3, and wanted her name taken off the ballot, she was told she could NOT do this because it was within 45 days of the election. This seemed odd to me because precedent had already been set in the June 2011 election when 2 candidates withdrew from that election, 21 days before that election. Not understanding why the rules changed, I emailed Ms. Lessard with my questions. Ms. Lessard responded via email stating that Hampden abides by State of Maine Statute - Ms. Lessard went on to write that in Title 21A a candidate cannot withdraw within a 45 day period before the election.
This puzzled me since the precedent had already been set in June of 2011 whereby 2 candidates dropped out of the race and their names were taken off the ballot 21 days before that election so I looked up the state statute and under Candidate Withdrawal from Election it states:
Title 21 A - let me read to you:
6A. A candidate may withdraw from an elective race by notifying the municipal clerk in writing of the candidate’s intent to withdraw and the reason for withdrawal at least 45 days before the election. This notice must be signed by the candidate and must be notarized.
6B. Within the 45-day period before an election, the municipal clerk may allow a candidate to withdraw from an elective race. (just like the 2 candidates that withdrew inn June 2011) A candidate who requests to withdraw within the 45-day period before an election shall notify the municipal clerk in writing of the candidate’s intent to withdraw and the reason for withdrawal. This notice must be signed by the candidate and must be notarized.
6C. The municipal clerk shall ensure that new ballots are produced, if necessary, to reflect the withdrawal of a candidate from an elective race.
Timing was not of the essence in ordering the ballots because this candidate tried to withdraw around the 27th of September, 42 days before the election. And according to the ballot receipts, it states that from the time the ballots are ordered it takes 8-10 days to process the order and have the ballots printed.
I received an email from Ms. Lessard stating that it would cost $2,000.00 to reprint ballots for local District 3. Apparently, the $2,000.00 cost was the new reason why this candidate was not allowed to withdraw from this last election. When the manager gives the reason to not address this withdrawal issue properly, due to the $2,000.00 cost of printing corrected ballots. That is a misleading and appalling excuse.
Let me remind you of a few of the most frivolous expenditures this council and this administration has spent in the last year regardless of public input:
1) Private luncheon session off site at the White House. We have council chambers. This wasn’t necessary.
2) $5,000 spent to bring Randall Arendt to town for a 4 hour lecture on how to take away private property rights.
3) $20,000.00 to outside private entities such as :
A. Penquis Cap
B. Bangor STD Clinic
C. Red Cross
And many more - but you get the picture.
4) The insistence of a moderator from the town council for the Citizen Comprehensive Committee - spent close to $20,000.00
5) And let’s not forget the latest request by Councilor Brann, Mayor Hughes, Councilor Cushing et al to spend public funds on copious legal fees to research how to take action to shut the residents up, while these same residents are risking their personal reputation simply by asking legitimate questions.
The outcome of the election is not the issue. It’s the integrity of the election and the confidence of the voter, that their vote will be counted correctly is at stake.
Continued in next column...
The fundamental purpose of the election which is held once every three years was so that people could vote for the candidate in their own district that they felt would best represent them on issues affecting their district. When the voting citizen receives the wrong ballot, for candidates in a different district, than district in which the voter lives, the citizen has been denied his opportunity to participate in representative government. An election that doesn’t give the citizens an opportunity to vote for their own representative is a botched election.
This election process is a mess. It needs to be done over correctly, legally and professionally. Trust needs to be restored in this town.
I sent emails to the town manager asking questions about the validity of this last election. My emails were polite, formal and official, but how they were treated was not.
Residents that went to the town office to conduct personal business, like registering their vehicle, were verbally accosted by the town manager. Residents were confronted by Manager Lessard, who they were not dealing with at the time. Remember, they were there to register their vehicle.
Ms. Lessard began to loudly and bitterly complain about Cindy Philbrick and her recent emails. According to this resident Ms. Lessard then slammed down copies of emails in front of this resident demanding that he read the emails that Cindy Philbrick sent. It is my understanding that Ms. Lessard went on to say to this resident that this was an example of how Ms. Lessard has been harassed.
This upset the resident greatly; that a private citizen such as myself, Cindy Philbrick would be treated in such a manner, that this resident immediately contacted me to tell me what had happened. It doesn’t stop there. My name has been maligned, defamed and publicly abused on a consistent basis, causing me to receive many calls from the town of Hampden residents, expressing concern for my reputation and even my safety.
I would request that these tactics cease immediately, if I thought it would do any good, but clearly and obviously this council and town administration care little for proper rules and boundaries. Professionalism towards the residents of Hampden and towards the state statute appear to have been completely disregarded.
Since I officially by written notice requested a new election on November 11th, 2011, even more has happened to jeopardize the integrity of this last election.
The seal on the incoming voter registration list was broken on the 4th day without notification to the public or the candidates. The state statute clearly states that the seals cannot be broken until the 5th day. BUT - the seals were broken on the 4th day - after hours. Who was there to witness this "so called public event?" It was reported by Ms. Lessard that the town clerk worked on this incoming voter registration list after hours until 10PM. Did she work alone? Who was there to witness this? These actions appear to be reckless, at best. The integrity and importance of each vote and voter was compromised when that seal was broken.
The town manager claimed to have made an announcement at a town meeting that the seal would be broken on the 4th day - a violation of state statute. Because of this announcement this was supposed to make this an OK thing to do?
The summation that has been reported to all the news media is that there are only 5 votes that are unaccounted for in the whole town.
This does not accurately reflect the many people in District 2 that were given the wrong ballots. It’s like that old saying “Two wrongs doesn’t make it right”. In this case , “Countless wrongs really doesn't make it right”. No - sorry folks. It appears that there was a lot of horse trading ballots from district to district, especially in District 2. As you recall, the election tally was very close.
I stand behind my request for a new election in this town and I will not be bullied, intimidated, or threatened into silence by this Council.
One last question - What is the deal with putting selective emails on the town council agenda? Why are you “Cherry Picking" certain resident’s emails to exploit? It is a fact that NOT ALL emails that are sent to the town manager and town council members are exploited in a public forum.
It appears to me, that certain private individuals in this town are being slandered on a daily basis, vs. publicly elected officials.