By Steve Guntli
It’s official: the name of Blaine shall remain the same.
The voters of Blaine have soundly struck down proposition 2014-1, the measure that would change the name of the town from Blaine to Blaine Harbor. The proposition was voted down 65.8 percent to 34.1 percent.
This latest defeat marks the second time that Blaine voters have rejected the name change. The issue was on the ballot in 2000 and lost by 57 to 43 percent.
The name change has been one of the most heated and divisive issues in recent town history, with plenty of vocal support coming from both sides.
Supporters of the proposition believed the name change would have a positive impact on the local economy, rebranding the city as a seaside tourist destination and giving the town a distinct identity.
The opposition claimed there was no demonstrable evidence that the name change would make any difference, and the cost of changing the name outweighed any potential benefits.
Angie Dixon, one of the leaders of the We Are Blaine movement against the name change, said she is thrilled with the results.
“We were expecting it to happen like this,” she said. “We tried to tell them going into it that the locals here would never go for it, and now they’ve heard us loud and clear.”
Dixon said she was actually surprised the vote was as close as it was.
“We were expecting it to be more like 70-30,” she said. “I’m actually a little surprised it was that close, but we were very confident it was going to go our way.”
Blaine city councilman Clark Cotner, who first proposed the name change last spring and fought to put it on the November ballot, said he didn’t get the result he was hoping for, but was happy voters came out for the issue.
“All we on the council ever wanted was to give the voters a choice on the matter,” Cotner said. “The name change lost, and that’s that.”
Cotner did express disappointment over the confusion about just how much the name change would cost the city. Members of the opposition estimated the name change would cost upwards of $50,000, while Cotner and his supporters assert it would only be between $5,000 and $10,000. City finance director Jeffrey Lazenby said the city did not have a solid estimate as to what it would cost, only that the expense would come from the city’s $5 million general fund.
Cotner said he has no interest in reviving the issue in the future.
“That’s it for me,” he said. “I’m going to be focusing on my work with the Blaine Economic Development Committee, which has always been my passion and is making great strides towards improving the town.”
Dixon and her group will be turning their attention towards other local issues.
“At this point, we’re just excited to move on,” she said. “We can focus on the school bond and the Marine Park playground and other issues that actually will help our town. The name change debate is over, and hopefully we never have to talk about it again.”