2007 April 13
by Eileen Curry
Perry residents narrowly approved a financial agreement with Quoddy Bay LNG in a March 26 referendum that had sharply divided the town. By an 18-vote margin, 229-211, voters approved the Financial Framework Agreement, and by a 31-vote margin, 205-236, they turned down a referendum question on forming a special negotiating committee concerning the liquefied natural gas project. They also re-elected, by a 13-vote margin, selectman H. Richard Adams, who has been supportive of the Quoddy Bay LNG proposal. A total of 442 voters cast ballots, out of 630 registered voters, for a turnout of 70%.
However, following a ballot inspection by Perry Citizens for Responsible Growth on April 5, the group has requested a recount on the financial package referendum question. The recount is scheduled for Friday, April 13.
Under the financial agreement, Quoddy Bay LNG would guarantee an annual amount to the town of $3.6 million to be used for municipal purposes. The agreement also includes a one-time payment of $1,000,000 for renovation of the Perry Elementary School and a donation by Quoddy Bay LNG of $100,000 per year to a scholarship fund for Perry school children.
Following the announcement of the results, Quoddy Bay LNG Project Manager Brian Smith stated, "The Perry community has made it clear that it understands and embraces all of the opportunities associated with the project by accepting this agreement. We look forward to bringing these important financial benefits to the town in the near future."
"It appears that the voters have put their confidence in the Perry selectmen who have done a great job in negotiating this agreement for the town," Smith noted. "We look forward to continuing to work with Selectman Adams, Selectmen Turner, Selectman Guisinger and the Perry community to draft a final agreement."
In a release, Quoddy Bay LNG also stated that "the results from the vote accepted in Perry and the recent positive votes in local Passamaquoddy reservations, Indian Township and Pleasant Point, solidified support and helped to stabilize payments to the tribe for the lease of Passamaquoddy land."
Selectwoman Jeanne Guisinger, who opposed the financial agreement and supported the formation of a special negotiating committee, said, "I am certainly disappointed. We have some bright people here in town and with all the misinformation about the committee I think voters were misled about it, and this is unfortunately the outcome of it."
David Turner, chairman of the board of selectmen, who was in favor of the financial agreement, said after the vote, "I'd like to thank the voters for their confidence in what the selectmen and the town's attorney have been doing for the past 12 months. We've worked hard to secure a great financial agreement for the town and I hope we can move forward now and work together to complete this process."
On the heels of the vote, Perry Citizens for Responsible Growth asked to inspect "all ballots and records required by law to be kept in connection with absentee ballots, including applications for absentee voting, and also including all voter registration cards submitted to the town in 2007, the incoming voter list, and all other election-day paperwork." The petition was signed by 59 Perry voters who voted in the March 26 election. In their request for a ballot inspection, the group cited "oddities" and stated that it "deems this necessary in order to seek answers to questions that have been raised concerning possible irregularities with the vote."
What the group was looking for wasn't initially found during a stormy weather day on the afternoon of April 5. According to Town Clerk Janice Scanlon, members Jane Cook and Ron Rosenfeld were allowed only to study each ballot without handling them and "pencils and papers were not allowed at the table." All requested documents were made available to the group except copies of voter registration cards because Scanlon believed that "some of that information is confidential" such as birth dates of voters and other private information on voter cards. Scanlon said she would investigate if the cards could or could not be released.
Two candidates who lost a close race for selectman and planning board, Austin Frost and Brian Theriault, also requested an inspection of the ballots, and after a review by Theriault and Jeanne Guisinger the results had not changed. Incumbent Dick Adams kept his 13-vote lead, 223 to 210, for the selectman's seat, and Theriault maintained his fifth place in the planning board race. Elected to three seats on the planning board were Linda Newcomb, with 234 votes, Gerald Morrison, with 210, and Graydon Ritchie Jr., with 200. Also running were Karen Raye, who received 189, Brian Theriault, with 178, Howard Calder, with 176, and Robert Costa, with 42.
© 2007 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.