Published April 24, 2019
WAKEFIELD — The results of a hard-fought 2019 municipal election season are in: Jonathan Chines is a new Town Councilor, Phil Courcy and Thomas Boettcher are now on the Board of Gas and Light Commissioners, and the town charter will be changed to make it a little less easy to overturn a Town Meeting vote.
About 17.4 percent of Wakefield’s 18,760 registered voters cast ballots yesterday during the annual election in the Galvin Middle School cafeteria. Finance Committeeman Chines actually topped the Town Council ticket, his 1,998 votes more than those cast for incumbents Peter May (1,892) and Ann McGonigle Santos (1,850). First term incumbent Tony Longo barely missed out at retaining his seat on the Town Council, getting 1,829 votes.
Incumbent Gas and Light Commissioner Wayne Tarr was the odd man out in the three-way race for two seats on the board, which were won by Phil Courcy, who received 2,231 votes, and Thomas Boettcher, who received 1,739.
In the only other contested race in this year’s municipal balloting, incumbent Board of Health member Elaine Silva easily retained her position, besting Annette Nardone 1,744 to 908.
A complete list of the results from yesterday’s voting appears elsewhere in today’s paper.
Voters also faced 10 ballot questions this year, all of which sought to make changes to the Town Charter, the document used to run municipal affairs.
The first question drew the most attention, with a group of opponents (”Stop Voter Suppression”) actively campaigning for its failure at the polls. Question 1 asked to change the process for calling a referendum election to overturn Town Meeting votes. Before yesterday, 200 registered voters needed to sign a petition within 10 business days after the end of Town Meeting. Now, 2 1/2 percent of the town’s registered voters are required to sign a petition within 12 calendar days after the end of Town Meeting to call an election to overturn a Town Meeting vote.
The impetus for this proposed Charter change was the rejection at the polls of a $8 million renovation project at the Public Safety Building. Those plans took over two years and countless volunteer hours to finalize, and were approved overwhelmingly at the April 2018 Town Meeting.
Supporters of the change blamed that voter rejection of the Public Safety Building project in part on misinformation petition organizers spread about the proposal.
Question 1 passed 1,662 to 1,499. Precinct 1 voters approved it 268 to 222. Question 2 failed in Precinct 2, 176 to 148. Precinct 3 voters okayed the Charter change 224 to 211. In Precinct 4, voters approved the change 220 to 189. It also passed in Precinct 5, 255 to 237. In Precinct 6, the change was approved 286 to 207. And in Precinct 7, it was approved by the most narrow of margins, 261 to 257.
Question 2 asked to increase the term of office of the Town Moderator from one year to three years. It passed townwide 2,097 to 981.
Question 3 dealt with a committee that helps select members of the important town Finance Committee. Those Charter changes passed 2,387 to 527.
Question 4 asked that someone who needs to be given written notice of some town business, that notice may be given electronically with the person’s consent. That change was approved 2,357 to 640.
Question 5 proposed to delete a certain outdated section of the Charter relating to the appointment of the Health Agent and the staff of the Board of Health. That request was backed 2,567 to 332.
Question 6 dealt with changing the description of the composition of the Housing Authority. It passed 2,574 to 327.
Question 7 asked to delete a provision in the Charter concerning the clerical staff of the Beebe Memorial Library, since the library has no clerical staff. That was approved 2,511 to 404.
Question 8 asked to delete reference in the Charter to “recreation” from the description of the Department of Public Works, since recreation is the responsibility of the separate Recreation Commission. It passed 2,603 to 335.
Question 9 proposed letting the School Committee submit its preliminary budget to the Town Administrator 60 days before the spring Town Meeting instead of the current 90 days. That passed 2,056 to 892.
And finally, Question 10 asked to make various corrections and improvements to the Charter’s punctuation, grammar, usage and style. That passed 2,603 to 332.
Unofficially, 3,260 registered voters participated in the 2019 annual municipal election.