No surprises in Town Election results

May 10, 2018 by

Published in the May 10, 2018 edition

By MAUREEN DOHERTY

NORTH READING — Everyone’s familiar with the adage that the rarer something is the more valuable it becomes.

Such was the sentiment of the candidates in Tuesday’s annual Town Election toward each voter who took the time to cast a ballot in an election without contested races – all 473 of them.

If you do the math, that’s just 4.28% of the town’s 11,041 eligible voters.

“I’m certainly gratified by the support of those who chose to vote. I wish a few more people would have participated, but I’m thankful for those that did,” said Selectman Steve O’Leary said, who easily won re-election to his seat on the Board of Selectmen with 402 votes.

Selectwoman Kathryn Manupelli echoed O’Leary’s sentiment. “Thank you to the voters who did turn out,” she said. She was re-elected to her second three-year term with 343 votes.

IN IT FOR the long haul. Campaigning outside the polls at St. Theresa’s all day Tuesday were (from left) Dyana Boutwell, write-in candidate for School Committee, incumbent Selectwoman Kate Manupelli, incumbent Selectman Steve O’Leary and his wife, Sue O’Leary. (Maureen Doherty Photo)

Rich McGowan, who was elected to his first term on the School Committee with 363 votes, said succinctly, “I’m looking forward to getting started and I’m grateful to those who came out to vote.”

Dyana Boutwell, the declared write-in candidate for an open seat on the School Committee who received 164 votes in her first attempt at elective office, told the Transcript, “I am going to continue to try to push our generation to make these things important again.”

She had spent the day waving to passersby from the sidewalk on Winter Street in front of the town’s centralized polling place at St. Theresa’s Parish Hall. Many motorists responded with a supportive “beep beep.”

“I wish more people turned out to vote, but I’m very thankful for those who did turn out,” Boutwell said, adding that she has been impressed by the support the public has shown for a variety of programming the School Department has offered to the community. She noted that Parent University, brought to town for the first time this year Superintendent Jon Bernard, had “a great turnout.” The trick is converting interest in school-related programming into an interest in voting — and running — for the school board.

Now that the School Committee has approved its budget as of Monday night’s vote, Boutwell said she is looking forward to learning all she can about the issues put before them in order to make the most “educated decisions” that she can on behalf of the town.

McGowan and Boutwell succeeded Jerry Venezia, who stepped down after 18 1/2 years on the school board, and Julie Koepke, who stepped down after completing her first term in elective office. Both chose not to seek re-election.

CPC and Housing Authority

Incumbent Community Planning Commission (CPC) Chairman Bill Bellavance easily won re-election to his three-year seat with 394 votes.

Ryan Carroll ran a write-in campaign for the open seat on the CPC and won with 58 votes. There were also nine write-ins for “others.” This seat had been held by Joe Veno who opted not to seek re-election to this seat or his seat on the Housing Authority.

Charles “Chuck” Carucci stepped up to run for the five-year seat on the Housing Authority and easily got into office with 415 votes. 

Town Moderator

With no opponents, John J. Murphy will return for his 14th consecutive one-year team as Town Moderator. He received 390 votes.

Race against the blanks

With a turnout this low there are bound to be blanks cast, especially in the offices for which there were two seats but only one certified candidate on the ballot – even with the announced write-in campaigns of Boutwell and Carroll.

By far the greatest number of blanks were cast in the CPC race, with 485. Carroll received 58 declared write-in votes and there were nine write-ins for “others.”

The School Committee was a close second, with 405 blanks plus 164 declared write-ins for Boutwell and 14 write-ins for “others.”

There were a total of 186 blanks cast in the selectmen’s race, plus 15 write-ins.

For Housing Authority, there were 55 blanks and three write-ins.

For moderator, there were 82 blanks and one write-in vote cast.

An eye to the future

Asked what he is looking forward to in the term ahead after the unofficial results were read aloud by the poll workers in the lobby of St. Theresa’s Parish Hall, O’Leary said, “I’m looking forward to finishing off a few issues here. No. 1, getting the water issue settled and resolved, moving that forward, and having an opportunity to move forward on some sewerage, and to make a lot of headway on a lot of other issues. What are we going to do with $20-plus million dollars (from the sale of the J.T, Berry property) and how are we going to invest that to be sure that it lasts and we don’t squander it away?”

O’Leary has been a fixture in town politics for decades, first as Town Moderator for many years and then as a selectman for all but about five years out of the past 30.

“There are major issues still facing us, but I think we are on a downhill slide as far as resolving some of these long-term issues,” O’Leary said. 

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