FAIRHAVEN – Long-time incumbent Selectman Brian K. Bowcock was defeated by challenger Geoffrey Haworth Monday by 260 votes in a heated election where the major issues were the wind turbines and calls for more open government.
Mr. Haworth won by a margin of 1,370 to 1,110, according to Town Clerk Eileen Lowney Wednesday, after doing a hand count of 48 ballots not included in the initial count Monday night.
Ms. Lowney said she will hold a recount next Tuesday at 5 p.m. if either of the two candidates in very close races seeks it.
The candidates in close elections are John Wethington for Board of Health and Cathy Melanson for Planning Board. Mr. Wethington was declared the winner by three votes early in the evening; later it was announced that he had lost by one vote to incumbent Peter DeTerra. Cathy Melanson’s loss to John Farrell shrank from 10 to four votes after the hand count was completed.
Candidates seeking recounts must return 10 signatures from each of the six precincts.
On Wednesday, Mr. Wethington expressed frustration with the change of events.
He said, “If she looks at the state law, even if there is a clerical error,” he won because he was announced the winner and sworn in. He said Ms. Lowney will have to “unswear” him.
“Those votes that were counted were counted in front of everybody,” Mr. Wethington said. Nevertheless, he said if it comes down to it, he will get the signatures needed for a recount.
In the only other contested race, School Committee incumbents Stasia Powers and Bernard Roderick won easily over challenger Diane Hahn.
Mr. Haworth said his victory was as much about the need for change and open government as dissatisfaction with the wind turbines.
“I had a clear message of change and I think that’s what everyone wants to see,” Mr. Haworth, a member and past chairman of the Board of Public Works, said.
Mr. Haworth said the town can’t take the turbines down, but, “I want to see some dialogue between the people being affected by the turbines and the selectmen and see how we can move from there. This town’s not going to move forward if we can’t have some dialogue.”
Selectman Charles Murphy has said one option is to try to have the turbines shut down at night.
Before the votes came in, the mood at Town Hall was almost festive as it often is as people await the results of a Fairhaven town election.
Mr. Bowcock didn’t appear, despite his role as chairman of the Board of Selectmen. That left Mr. Murphy and Selectman Robert Espindola to congratulate the winners in the Town Hall banquet room, as is traditional.
Referring to the closeness of the Board of Health and Planning Board races, Mr. Murphy said it proved that every vote counts.
Speaking by phone Wednesday, Mr. Bowcock said he had sent a letter of congratulations to Mr. Haworth. He said he always watches the election results at home unless there is a Select Board meeting just prior to the 8 p.m. poll closing.
In this case, he said, he was campaigning until polls closed and went home to watch the results.
Of his loss, Mr. Bowcock said Windwise was very organized about getting out the vote while his supporters assumed he would win.
In candidates forums, Mr. Bowcock said repeatedly that the race was essentially Windwise against “people who have brought you good government.”
Last year’s election also saw victories for wind turbine opponents, in races for selectmen, the Board of Health and School Committee.
Last-minute revelations about a letter Mr. Bowcock wrote to Windwise activist Henry Ferreira’s employer also probably influenced voters.
The letter accused Mr. Ferreira of sending threatening e-mails on his college e-mail account to Mr. DeTerra, but police said the e-mails did not rise to that level.