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Jul 7, 2015 7:15 PM

Controversial Seabrook candidate Rio Tilton wins special election for NH House seat


SEABROOK - Republican candidate Rio Tilton, 19, was named the winner Tuesday in a special election for the House of Representatives.

Tilton earned 772 votes. His Democratic opponent, Elaine Andrews-Ahearn of Hampton Falls, earned 375.

Earlier in the day, both candidates were holding signs with supporters at the town hall in Hampton Falls, trying to woo voters.

It was the first time Tilton spoke publicly to NH1 News about social media posts showing him smoking what appears to be marijuana and participating in other wild behavior.

The 19-year-old from Seabrook maintained that he is mature enough for the job.

"I am ready to help out my community," Tilton said. "I grew up in the church. I'm a church deacon. I was in the Boy Scouts. I have always been helping people."

Tilton added that he has been working on behalf of the Republican party since elementary school.

"At 7-years-old, I was up at the Deerfield Fair, helping out the Republican committee," he said.

Tilton also said he has learned his lesson.

"Definitely, don't do stupid things, and even if you think it's a joke, just don't do it," Tilton said.

Voter Brad Upton didn't seem to mind Tilton's past antics after learning about them through recent news reports, and said he voted for him.

"The media does what the media does," Upton said. "You guys are out to sell stories and I am out to live."

The Hampton Falls resident said he would rather vote for a kid than a politician, referring to Andrews-Ahearn.

Andrews-Ahearn, 64, served in the N.H. House of Representatives for two years, and has been part of the local Democratic committee for 20 years.

She talked about how she got the word out about herself during a special election held in July.

"We've all gone door to door canvassing, asking people to get out and vote because this is a very odd time of year to have an election," Andrews-Ahearn said.

She was not at either polling location as the announcement that Tilton had won was made.

Tilton will replace Republican Dennis Sweeney, who resigned in April, due to work constraints.

He will represent District 20, covering Seabrook and Hampton Falls.

Follow Kimberley Haas on Twitter @KHaasNH1.

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