DUNBARTON— Long-time Selectman Les Hammond was unseated by challenger Brian Pike on Tuesday by just eight votes.
Pike garnered 286 votes, while Hammond received 278 votes. At the March 11 annual Town Meeting, 1,987 voters were on the checklist and 13 more registered at the polls; 571 ballots were counted for a 28.5 percent turnout.
Hammond said he will not request a recount, and although he had wanted to serve for another term he is accepting the voters' wishes.
"Voters had allowed me to do it my way and now it's someone else's turn. Change is sometimes a little scary, but I'm fine with it," said Hammond, who is a seventh-generation resident of Dunbarton. "The moderator put his best counters on this so there's no need to put people through that."
Hammond has served as selectman on and off since 1978, and 14 years as town moderator. He is a Merrimack County treasurer and deacon of the Dunbarton Congregational Church, and hopes to stay involved in the community.
"I'll still be interested in the town and I'm still on a couple of committees and I want to stay on them," Hammond said. "I want to thank all the townspeople who gave me the opportunity for 20 years of service as selectman, and I appreciate the respect and trust they bestowed on me during that period and I enjoyed every moment."
For now, his plans are to vacation in Florida, "get my tan and get my battery recharged and go on from there," he said.
"It'll take a little while. On Thursday nights, I immediately turn at that corner but I won't be doing that anymore, but I'm OK with it," he said.
Pike said he hopes "to bring a fresh face and a new set of eyes" to the board.
"I'm hoping to bring some stability and transparency right now. As a state employee for 18 years I know how the government process works," said Pike. "It's still a relatively new board and I have the knowledge to help keep it on an even keel."
Pike said Hammond, who has served on the board for about 20 years, deserves the town's respect and admiration for serving the town for so many years.
Pike is employed at the state's Department of Transportation's Bureau of Fuel Distribution, and is responsible for the statewide automated fuel system of 94 fuel sites and the strategic reserve.
Pike also won re-election as a cemetery trustee for another three years.
Voters also approved the town's $2,174,000 operating budget and spending $75,000 to renovate the existing fire department kitchen, bath and meeting areas and add three new offices. However, the proposal to change the police department secretary's position from part time to full time at a cost of $17,000, failed. Voters also passed a $24,000 warrant to hire and equip a full-time police officer, beginning Sept. 1.
Union Leader Correspondent