This was an election where incumbent office holders seemed to have a decided edge – a complete reversal from two years ago. In Tuesday’s election, voters reelected 10 of the 11 candidates who ran town-wide campaigns:
- Despite facing five challengers, all five selectmen held onto their seats by comfortable margins. Anthony W. Cogliano, Sr. finished as the top vote-getter for the second straight election, claiming the honor to serve as board chair for two more years.
- Four of the five School Committee members, who replaced the incumbent committee members two years ago, won another term. Only Committee Member Arthur Grabowski failed to get reelected, finishing last in a field of seven candidates – 429 votes behind his nearest competitor.
- Veteran Housing Authority Chair William B. Stewart beat his nearest opponent by 384 votes in a three-way race to win his third four-year term.
Thirty-eight of the 41 incumbent Town Meeting members won reelection in their respective races in the 10 precincts. There will be 12 new Town Meeting members joining the 50-member body after this week’s biennial town election.
Only 4,042 of the town’s 20,362 registered voters – 19.85 percent – turned out for this week’s election.
Just two years ago, voters decided they wanted a completely new School Committee while replacing three of the five selectmen in an election which reflected an anti-incumbent atmosphere. But this year, voters seemed to embrace the incumbent office holders in most instances. With the COVID-19 pandemic overlapping the previous two-year term of the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee, the town faced some major challenges. And there seemed to be a preference to maintain continuity in local government.
“I’m really thrilled to have the same board return,” Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree told selectmen at a brief organizational meeting on Wednesday (Nov. 3) night, following the swearing-in ceremony.
Crabtree noted that a turnover in elected town leaders can slow down the process of local government. In some cases, the manager has to spend time training new selectmen, but with an experienced board, there’s more continuity in government. The manager doesn’t have to spend time training new selectmen on various projects. The current board has already gone through a learning curve and is in a better position to proceed on projects.
“I really think there’s a lot we can do,” Crabtree said.
Cogliano agreed with the town manager that the current board is better positioned to tackle important projects. “We shouldn’t miss a beat,” Cogliano said.
The first Board of Selectmen’s meeting is set for Nov. 16.
Board of Selectmen’s race at a glance
1) *Anthony W. Cogliano Sr., 2,439
2) *Debra C. Panetta, 2,116
3) *Jeffrey V. Cicolini, 1,755
4) *Corinne R. Riley, 1,710
5) *Michael J. Serino, 1,709
6) Elizabeth A. Marchese, 1,308
7) Domenic Montano, 1,250
8) Darren R. McCullough, 1,191
9) Harold Young, 876
10) Leo M. Fonseca, Jr., 726
Serino runs strong in school race
School Committee Chair Thomas R. Whittredge finished as the top vote-getter, just as he did two years ago. But not far behind was former School Committee Member Vincent Serino, who finished as the runner-up.
School Committee race at a glance
1) *Thomas R. Whittredge, 2,090
2) Vincent A. Serino, 2,021
3) *John S. Hatch, 1,846
4) *Ryan P. Fisher, 1,807
5) *Joseph D Gould, 1,661
6) Leigh Michelle Gerow, 1,586
7) *Arthur Grabowski, 1,157
Housing Authority race at a glance
1) *William B. Stewart, 1,426
2) Kristi A. Talagan, 1,042
3) John Cannon, 669