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MOREAU — A former Republican pulled off an upset Tuesday by running on the Democratic line to win a seat on the Town Board.

John “JD” Donohue knew he was the underdog. Last month, he was embracing the prospect of losing, saying he had learned a great deal about the town as he campaigned door-to-door. That made it worth it even if he lost, he said.

But he had a good feeling about it at the end of the campaign, he said.

“I worked hard. I really felt I would come out a victor,” he said after unofficial results showed him winning.

But he had a good feeling about it at the end of the campaign, he said.

“I worked hard. I really felt I would come out a victor,” he said after unofficial results showed him winning.

He also switched enrollments, becoming a Democrat after a lifetime as a Republican.

“I was certainly treated better by the Democrats than the Republicans in town,” he said.

The Republicans this summer challenged Donohue’s petitions, saying he had committed fraud.

He ran partly to give the public the choice of a “real” Republican, versus longtime board member Gina LeClair, who just switched her enrollment from Democrat to Republican.

But as he campaigned, he said, he heard from many residents who didn’t know how to get answers to their questions. He vowed to improve communication, holding quarterly coffee meetings because it would be less intimidating than standing behind a lectern at a Town Board meeting. He likened that experience to being called to the principal’s office, and said residents didn’t feel welcomed when they brought problems there.

“I absolutely want to do that,” he said on election night. “I think I’ll have one before I take office. I want to know what people want me to do before I get into the ballgame.”

In unofficial results, Donohue has 1,283 votes. Board member Gina LeClair has 1,268, earning her the second seat. Board member Alan VanTassel appears to have narrowly lost his bid for re-election with 1,078.

Many Moreau voters said they were happy with the success under the current Town Board.

“They’ve done a good job, as far as I’m concerned,” said voter Doug Heide, one of many voters who chose the incumbents rather than challenger John Donohue.

But others said the board needs “fresh blood” and many said Donohue might be able to provide a new perspective.

“He’s given some indications he’d be a relatively open-minded guy,” said voter Jake Navatka. “Even though he’s not completely of the Democratic Party.”

Wilton supervisor race

Longtime Wilton board member John Lant won a promotion to supervisor Tuesday.

Lant has been on the board for eight years. He has been a firefighter for 45 years, retiring as chief three months ago.

He wants to start a mentoring program that might keep children from trying illegal drugs.

He was challenged by resident Nancy Dwyer, who started her own party to fight what she described as the “good ol’ boy network” in town.

Incumbents David Towne and Matthew Coseo will return to town justice and incumbent Highway Superintendent Kirklin Woodcock defeated John Helenek. For Town Board, Erinn Kolligian and Raymond O'Conor won seats defeating Michele Hill-Davis.

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You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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