Democrat Ronald Bergstrom appears to have defeated incumbent Leo G. Cakounes in the race for a seat on the Barnstable County Commission by less than half a percentage point, according to unofficial result tallies.
On an otherwise successful night for Cape Cod’s incumbents, Mr. Bergstrom—Chatham’s longtime representative on the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates—edged out Mr. Cakounes of Harwich by 339 votes.
Mr. Cakounes told the Enterprise he has been in touch with Mr. Bergstrom and hopes to ensure a smooth transition, but before they make any official statements, the candidates are waiting for the certified results, including any absentee ballots.
On election night, Mr. Bergstrom joined several Democratic candidates, including Congressman William R. Keating and state Senator Julian A. Cyr, at an Election Night celebration in Hyannis, where the crowd hoped to usher in a “blue wave” of Democratic victories.
No one had been declared a winner in the county election race by the time guests began departing.
On the Upper Cape, Mr. Cakounes took the towns of Bourne, Mashpee and Sandwich, but Mr. Bergstrom won Falmouth by more than 1,300 votes.
Mr. Bergstrom could not be reached for comment as of press time, but during the campaign he said a top priority would be addressing wastewater management across Cape Cod.
“That’s a challenge that we’re all going to face,” Mr. Bergstrom said at a candidates forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Falmouth. “Cleaning up our bays and our estuaries is critical to our environment, also critical to our economy.”
Mr. Cakounes, meanwhile, touted his role working with state auditors to combat the county’s financial woes. He prided himself on balancing the budget without dipping into savings throughout his four years on the commission. With flat revenue sources and rising costs, he said the budget was a key issue facing the regional government—and part of what motivated him to run for the county commission in the first place.
Now, he plans to return home to his farm and dedicate more time to his wife and family.
“I thank the voters for turning out in record numbers,” he said via phone.
Mr. Cakounes was also very clear that he will not be seeking public office again.
Despite having served on the Harwich Finance Committee, the Cape Cod Commission, the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates and, finally, the Barnstable County Commission, Mr. Cakounes admitted, “Quite, frankly I hated every minute of being a politician.”
He also believes his defeat was part of the so-called “blue wave.”
“There was a blue wave, and I’m not a swimmer,” he said, suggesting voters judged him based on his party affiliation rather than his record.
Barnstable County has bicameral government, including the three-member commission and the 15-member assembly, which has one representative from each Cape town.
Mr. Bergstrom, a commercial shellfisherman, has spent 12 years on the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates, including eight as speaker.
As commissioner, he will serve alongside Mary (Pat) Flynn of Falmouth and Ronald R. Beaty Jr. of West Barnstable, the latter a controversial figure known for advocating a cull of the Cape’s shark population.