Political newcomer defeats Shores Ness for Deerfield Selectboard seat

People check in to vote at Deerfield Town Hall on Monday. It was the most voters to participate in a local election since at least 2014.

People check in to vote at Deerfield Town Hall on Monday. It was the most voters to participate in a local election since at least 2014. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

People campaign for Selectboard candidates Carolyn Shores Ness and Blake Gilmore outside Deerfield Town Hall on Monday.

People campaign for Selectboard candidates Carolyn Shores Ness and Blake Gilmore outside Deerfield Town Hall on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

BLAKE GILMORE

BLAKE GILMORE

CAROLYN SHORES NESS

CAROLYN SHORES NESS

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 05-10-2024 9:24 PM

DEERFIELD — In the town’s highest-turnout race in at least a decade, political newcomer and longtime resident Blake Gilmore defeated Deerfield political fixture Carolyn Shores Ness, 898-857, for a seat on the Select Board.

Gilmore claimed victory Monday, as 1,767 of Deerfield’s 4,005 registered voters cast their ballots, a roughly 44% voter turnout. It was the most voters to participate in a local election since at least 2014, according to official results.

Amy Severance won the other contested race on the ballot, between two write-in candidates, as she defeated Dana Lavigne for a two-year Deerfield Elementary School Committee seat, 236-145.

Shores Ness has been on the Select Board since 2003, along with serving in several other town offices.

Gilmore, a former state trooper of three decades, said he knew the Select Board race was going to be close, but he felt he had a “long shot” chance of winning.

“It was definitely a hard-fought campaign and we did a lot of work,” Gilmore, 67, said Tuesday morning, thanking his campaign committee, singling out Paul Olszewski and Charlene Galenski, as well as “many others” for their work. “I want to thank the people of Deerfield who feel comfortable with me.”

As he steps into the role, Gilmore said he’s excited to focus on his campaign goals of fiscal responsibility, but the main thing he wants to work on right away is harnessing the energy this election has created and leveraging it into more community involvement.

“I want to get the community back into government. ... If you don’t get involved, you deserve what you get. You’ve got to step up to the plate,” Gilmore said, adding that he wants to get everyone involved. “The town is energized and I want to keep that momentum going.”

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Severance, 47, said she was really excited to learn she had won the write-in campaign for School Committee and thanked everyone around her for getting her name out there.

“I was overwhelmed by how helpful and caring and supportive people who previously didn’t know me were. … It was the work of others who really helped put my name out there,” Severance said Tuesday afternoon. “I feel like I’m more connected to people in the community.”

As she joins the School Committee, the veteran educator of 26 years said she’s looking forward to meeting her fellow committee members, meeting the teachers she hasn’t met through her own kids in the district and supporting the school.

The full election results are as follows:

■Select Board, three-year term — Blake Gilmore, 898 votes, Carolyn Shores Ness, incumbent, 857 votes.

■Board of Assessors, three-year term — Charles Shattuck III, incumbent, 1,376 votes.

■Constable, three-year term — Raymond Burniske Jr., incumbent, 1,384 votes.

■Deerfield School Committee, two-year term — Amy Severance, 236 write-in votes, Dana Lavigne, 145 write-in votes.

■Deerfield School Committee, two seats with three-year terms — Mary Ramon, incumbent, 1,276 votes, William Dziura, 1,158 votes.

■Elector Under Oliver Smith Will, one-year term — Leslie “Lili” Dwight, incumbent, 1,309 votes.

■Frontier Regional School Committee, three-year term — Olivia Leone, incumbent, 1,317 votes.

■Planning Board, three seats with three-year terms — Anne Buchanan Weiss, 1,223 votes, and incumbents Rachel Blain and Andrea Leibson, 1,294 and 1,234 votes, respectively.

■Planning Board, two-year term — Satu Zoller, 1,317 votes.

■Tilton Library trustee, three-year term — James Cambias, incumbent, 1,319 votes.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com.