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Democratic candidate Tim Bowles pulled ahead of Republican Mike France to win a close race in the 42nd House District by 302 votes.
Bowles, in his second term on the Preston Board of Selectmen, will serve in the seat vacated by state Rep. Tom Reynolds, D-Ledyard, covering Preston, parts of Montville and most of Ledyard. Bowles received 4,597 votes, while France trailed behind with 4,295.
Bowles waited to hear the results at home on the farm he shares with his wife, Donna. He could not be reached for comment after the final numbers were announced.
District 1 in Ledyard was the last to report results, well over an hour after numbers came in from the 42nd District's four other polling places. The final tally from District 1 was 1,781 for France and 1,584 for Bowles. France also carried the 2nd voting district in his town.
Bowles came out ahead of France in the remaining polling places, including a wide lead in his own Preston — 1,367 votes to 893.
Ernest Abrahamson, 87, and his wife Emma, 84, longtime Preston residents, were two of Bowles' supporters who cast their ballots at Preston Town Hall Tuesday afternoon.
"I think he'll do a good job," Abrahamson said of Bowles. "He's very intelligent."
After spending Election Day visiting all five polling places for the 42nd House District across three towns, France finished the evening at Ledyard Center School — across the street from unofficial campaign headquarters at Valentino's Restaurant and Pizzeria — where District 1's numbers were finalized shortly after 10 p.m.
"The voters have spoken," France said. "They've decided that Tim Bowles is the one they want to be represented by in Hartford."
France said he plans to continue representing the town of Ledyard as a town councilor and chairman of its finance committee.