Polls are open until 8 tonight

Published in the April 23, 2019 edition.

WAKEFIELD — A mid-morning mist fell today as dedicated, hardy souls cast ballots in the 2019 Town Election.

Traffic was relatively light at the centralized polling location in the Galvin Middle School cafeteria. In fact, Town Clerk Betsy Sheeran said overall turnout may not reach 15 percent of the town’s roughly 18,500 voters. But, as the town clerk continued, anything can happen.

As of 10 a.m. 486 local voters had completed ballots, with Precinct 5 residents carrying the early morning weight with 83. Most of the other six precincts were recording 10 a.m. totals in the 60-plus vote range.

There are three contested office races this year. Incumbent Town Councilors Ann Santos, Tony Longo and Peter May are joined by Finance Committeeman Jonathan Chines as they battle for three open seats. Gas and Light Commissioner Wayne Tarr squares off with Phil Courcy and Thomas Boettcher for two commission positions. And incumbent Board of Health member Elaine Silva is being challenged by Annette Nardone.

Ten questions also appear on this year’s ballot. The first one has been generating the most attention, since it seeks to change the process for calling a referendum election to overturn Town Meeting votes. Currently, 200 registered voters must sign a petition within 10 business days after the end of Town Meeting. The proposed change on the ballot would require at least 2 1/2 percent of the town’s registered voters sign a petition within 12 calendar days after the end of Town Meeting to call an election to overturn a Town Meeting vote.

This morning outside the Galvin cafeteria, Town Councilor Ed Dombroski and Town Administrator Stephen Maio also were showing people some planned improvements in the town’s business district as part of a downtown revitalization project called Envision Wakefield.

Today’s election was the first of four held at the Galvin while school was in session, and vehicular traffic did not seem an issue. All public school students had a half day of classes.

Extra measures were taken to guarantee voters can cast ballots easily and Galvin students and staff are safe.

More police will be on duty both inside the middle school and outside, particularly when class starts and when students are released early just before 11:30 a.m.

Also, some Galvin staff parked offsite and were shuttled to the facility.

Polls in the Galvin cafeteria are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Recently, Galvin Middle School families got a message from Principal Adam Colantuoni detailing changes to the normal school operations for today.

Some of them follow.

• Voting location: Voting will take place in the cafeteria and all residents entered the Galvin through the Community Entrance of the school. Students who had Music or PE did not travel to this side of the building and their teachers met students at another location for classes. It is an early release schedule, classes on these days are approximately 28 minutes long.

• Security: Doors were locked at the two points that connect the cafeteria and community lobby to the rest of the school. A police detail and staff presence were at both of these locations to ensure that voters and students did not interact.

• Breakfast and lunch: Breakfast and lunch were served out of the Learning Commons. Students were able to access breakfast as usual. The lunch menu was Lisa’s Pizza and if students choose to purchase lunch, they will pick it up in the Learning Commons during their assigned lunch time and report to their homeroom. Lunches on early release days are 15 minutes long.

• Arrival: The morning drop off routine was different to accommodate voters entering the campus who need access to parking. There were no barrels on the main road in front of our school. There was a police detail directing traffic and supervising the crosswalks. If students typically enter from Main Street and use the loop, their parents were asked to please continue pulling forward to the front of the school and have students exit the passenger side of your vehicles. This will be more clear on the morning of the drop-off.

• Dismissal: Students exited the building through the main entrance side of the school at the typical dismissal time of 11:20 am.