Labdon Falls Five Votes Short As Recount Leaves Brewster Results Unchanged

by Rich Eldred
Laurel Labdon. Laurel Labdon.

BREWSTER – Tuesday’s three-hour recount at Brewster Town Hall resulted in no change in the outcome in the race for the select board.

In a repeat of last year, challenger Laurel Labdon lost the three-candidate race by just five votes.

The final tally was 1,685 votes for incumbent select board member Mary Chaffee, who began her third term last week after winning in the May 28 election with the same number of votes. Amanda Bebrin picked up one vote to finish with 1,459 votes, while Laurel Labdon lost one to drop to 1,454. The five-vote margin was a repeat of last year when Labdon lost to incumbent Ned Chatelaine after another recount by five votes after gaining one another recount. The tally in 2023 was 1,147 for Chatelain and 1,142 for Labdon.

“It was close,” Labdon said afterwards. “I wasn’t expecting or optimistic there’d be a change in the outcome, but when it’s that close for certainty for all the people who worked so hard to support me, the validation of the recount was worthwhile.”

The recount began at 10:30 a.m. in Room A of town hall with six tables full of counters verifying packets of ballots, reading out the full names of the candidates receiving votes and having them repeated by a tabulator while observers stood by watching. The counting area was roped off and chairs were set up outside for an audience.

Mary Chaffee didn’t gain or lose a vote and wasn’t really in danger of losing 200-plus to drop out of the running.

“I’m pleased the result was confirmed,” Chaffee said. “I am honored to be able to serve Brewster for another three years. I look forward to serving with Amanda Bebrin, who I expect to be a proficient, innovative and hard working member of the select board. This was a good day for the Brewster community.”

Chaffee was one of the observers going from table to table while Labdon watched from the back of the room. Bebrin was working and not able to be present, although her supporters were there and relayed the results to her.

The actual counting was done by 1:15 p.m. and Police Chief Heath Eldredge filed the ballots away in containers sealed with tape.

Town Clerk Coleen Williams told the board of registrars she’d rejected 39 mail-in ballots and had tried to contact all the senders. Twelve ballots lacked signatures and eventually three were returned. Fourteen voters could not be contacted, six returns came in too late to count, three voters had passed away before the May 28 vote and several others had various issues. The board of registrars voted to approve her treatment of the ballots and accepted the final tally by a 3-0 vote.

There were 34 write-ins and their names weren’t reported although one vote went to Joe Exotic, who is not a Brewster resident. There were more than 1,000 blanks, some the result of “bullet voting,”

In which one spot was left blank to boost the favored candidate by declining to support an opponent. Some ballots were double blanks.

Labdon said she will remain active in Brewster. She won another term on the housing authority in the election and will send in an application to be one of the five at-large members of the new Sea Camps Advisory Committee that will implement plans for the bay and pond properties.