Claremont House Democrats in Sweep
Sharna Wilkerson, of Claremont, casts her ballot at Claremont Middle School with her kids Charlotte, 5, left, Peyton, 8, foreground middle, Bella, 9, right, and Madeline Olson, 7, back middle yesterday. (Valley News James M. Patterson ) Purchase photo reprints »
Claremont — It was a clean sweep for New Hampshire House Democrats from Claremont in yesterday’s election with two incumbents, a former state representative and a political newcomer winning handily.
Democrats, who held just four of the 13 House seats from Sullivan County after the 2010 legislative election, were poised to return to the majority in the county as former state Rep. Sue Gottling, D-Sunapee, defeated first-term incumbent Spec Bowers, R-Sunapee, in District 2 which includes Croydon. Gottling, a Sunapee Selectboard member, beat Bowers in Sunapee, 1,138 to 798 and tied in Croydon, 205-205 for an overall win of 1,343 to 1,003
In Claremont, former Democratic state Rep. Tom Donovan defeated Republican incumbent and School Board member Charlene Lovett, 1,136 to 858 in District 4, encompassing Ward 2; in District 3, covering Ward 1, Democrat Andrew O’Hearne, a Claremont Police officer, defeated Republican Steve Picano, 916-580; Ward 3 incumbent Democrat Ray Gagnon defeated Republican Richard Madigan, 971-571 in District 5; and in District 10, a floterial covering the entire city, incumbent Democrat John Cloutier defeated first-term incumbent Republican Paul LaCasse, 3,056 to 2,129.
“I think it is a swing back to the center,” Gagnon said outside Disnard Elementary School where Ward 3 residents voted, when asked about an apparent statewide trend showing Democrats picking up House seats. “That is what I have been hoping for. I hope now we can sit down and reach some real compromise. I think it is a voice of moderation and a return to common sense government.”
Lovett said the results show an electorate displeased with what is going on in Concord. “I’m surprised,” she said about her defeat. “Obviously people did not like how they were being represented.”
O’Hearne, who won his first run for office, simply replied, “happy,” when asked about his victory at the Ward 1 polls.
“I guess people wanted change,” said O’Hearne, who said his work at getting out to meet with voters such a senior citizens, played a part in his victory.
Before redistricting, Claremont was lumped with Unity and Lempster and had five seats. The third Republican incumbent from Claremont, Joe Osgood, lost in his bid for State Senate yesterday.
With four of eight towns reporting in District 9 — Grantham, Sunapee, Croydon and Springfield — challenger Linda Tanner, D-Sunapee, was leading incumbent Tom Howard, R-Croydon, 2,505 to 2,281. Unity, Newport, Plainfield and Cornish results were not available as of press time.
In District 1, with Grantham and Springfield reporting, incumbent Democrats Andy Schmidt, 1,375, and Ben Lefebvre, 1,302, were leading Republican challengers Laura Stiller Ward, 1,062, and Bill Walker, 1,010 votes. Cornish and Plainfield are also part of the district.
Incumbent County Commissioner Jeff Barrette, D-Claremont, won easily in Claremont over former commissioner Don Clarke, R-Claremont, 3,053 to 2,052 for District 1. Barrette also won in Grantham, 986-757, but lost to Clarke in Sunapee, 1,027 to 744. Incumbent commissioner John Callum, R-Unity, lost to former commissioner Ethel Jarvis, D-Unity, in Claremont for the District 3 commissioner seat, 2,737 to 2,228. Jarvis won in Grantham, 961-779 but Callum won in Sunapee, 1,036 to 746.
In the only other contested county race, Jim McClammer, D-Charlestown, defeated incumbent county treasurer Mike Sanderson, D-Newport, in Claremont voting, 2,671 to 2,229. Unofficially, voter turnout in Claremont was more than 86 percent. Sunapee turnout was 84 percent.
County Sheriff Mike Prozzo, County Attorney Marc Hathaway, Register of Deeds Sharron King and Register of Probate Diane Davis all won in uncontested county elections.
Claremont voters backed President Obama over Mitt Romney, 3,339 to 2,132 and for governor Maggie Hassan received 3,337 votes to Ovid Lamontagne’s 1,987.