PHILLIPS — More time was spent at Saturday’s unusual town meeting to elect two selectmen than to approve a municipal budget of $934,997.

That doesn’t include school or county assessments, and is $32,254 less than last year’s appropriation request of $967,251.

Phillips voters elect their town officials from the floor. This year, they had to elect one selectman to fill a three-year term after Selectman Stephen Charles’s three-year term expired, and another selectman to fill the remaining one-year term of Selectman Jon Wilbur Sr.

Wilbur resigned due to his job as a truck driver, which kept him on the road and frequently out of Maine.

After a nearly two-hour struggle, municipal office newcomers Margaret Cosenza and Nancy Morgan were respectively elected to the three-year and one-year terms.

Prior to the meeting’s start, voter Stanley Martell said he expected a battle to be waged for the two selectmen seats.

But actually, it was an exercise in seeming futility at first as Moderator Mike Ellis repeatedly stressed that Phillips town meetings require majority approval.

It took three times to hit that magic majority number to elect Cosenza, and four times for Morgan.

Voters nominated Cosenza, Lincoln Haines, Bruce Wilcox and James Eustis for the three-year seat.

Each candidate except for Eustis, who was absent, was then given up to five minutes to explain why they wanted to be a selectman. And then, voters lined up single-file in the Phillips Elementary School gym to the cast their ballots.

In the first go-round, of 120 ballots cast, Haines got 48 votes, Cosenza 57, Wilcox 11 and Eustis received 3. It wasn’t good enough, because Ellis said the majority needed to win with 120 registered voters attending was 62 votes.

Back they went again to re-vote. This time there were 123 registered voters and118 ballots cast, making the majority number 63 votes, Ellis said. No one hit it. Haines tallied 50 votes, Cosenza 62, Wilcox 6, and Eustis 0.

People groaned immediately after Ellis said the magic number was 63, and then read Cosenza’s tally.

“I’m sorry, but you need to do it again,” Ellis said.

Wilcox withdrew his nomination, making things somewhat easier.

Consenza won the third time around, tallying 64 votes to 50 for Haines and 0 for Eustis.

For the one-year term, Morgan, Charles Wilbur, Ray Gaudette, and Josh Bachelder were nominated and explained why they wanted the seat.

This time it took four tries before the magic number was reached, and each time, more people left, forcing Ellis to base the majority number on votes cast instead of registered voters.

Morgan, who topped Gaudette by a few votes each time, tallied 60 votes the fourth time to Gaudette’s 49 after Bachelder withdrew in the second round.

“It was surreal,” Cosenza said afterward of the process.

“It was unbelievable,” Morgan added.

After being sworn in by newly re-elected Town Clerk Evelyn Wilbur, Morgan said she was “very pleased” to be elected.

“I plan to bring unity and hard work to the table,” she said.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us, and the door of opportunity is here for us to walk through and move Phillips forward,” Cosenza said. “It’s all very positive.”

As for the budget, Budget Committee members Dain Trafton pared $7,000 from the General Administration budget of $145,963, making it $138,963, and Kenneth Ziglar cut $54,780 through amendments from the Highway Department budget of $430,016, making it $375,236. Both lower amounts were then approved.

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