Election day

OVERWHELMING SUPPORT - Select Board member Vanessa Alvarado (top photo, center) easily fought off an attempt to remove her from office during the community’s first-ever recall election on Tuesday. Alvarado is shown beisdes supporters Linda Dockser (l) and Stephen Vargas (r) as they held signs on Tuesday morning. (Photo by David Maroney)

READING – Her signs said Support Vanessa and in the end Reading voters did just that.

Vanessa Alvarado survived the recall election Tuesday, retaining her seat on the Select Board in overwhelming fashion.

Those voting against the recall totaled 5,641 votes. For the recall finished at 3,831, a roughly 60-40 split in favor of Alvarado.

"I am humbled and honored by the support I received tonight,” said Alvarado in an email. “To all the residents of Reading, regardless of how you voted, I am here to serve you. I am excited to continue this service going forward. I am grateful for my family and friends and everyone in this community we call home."

"I am humbled and honored by the support I received tonight,” said Alvarado in an email. “To all the residents of Reading, regardless of how you voted, I am here to serve you. I am excited to continue this service going forward. I am grateful for my family and friends and everyone in this community we call home."

John Halsey was running to fill Alvarado’s seat. The former Select Board member received 4,317 votes but with the recall failing, Halsey will remain on the sidelines. Results are unofficial until certified by Town Clerk Laura Gemme.

Others on the Select Board also reacted to the results.

"I am pleased with the results and not surprised that our citizens, after considering the evidence before them, voted overwhelmingly against the recall,” said Select Board member Karen Herrick. “I look forward to rededicating all of our volunteer energy to solving the very real problems we face in 2020 and moving on from this experience once again as neighbors.”

But not everyone shared those feelings.

“I am surprised in the outcome tonight,” said board member Carlo Bacci. “As elected officials, we are accountable to all residents. Let's keep our politics local and not self-serving.”

In so many ways, it was an election unlike any other in Reading’s history.

It was a summer of dueling websites, dueling lawn signs, and daily duels on social media. It was capped off by a voting experience that was dramatically different than anything Reading voters had seen before. The No. 2 pencils that workers used to cross off voter’s names were replaced by newly purchased Poll Pads with workers separated from voters by clear plexiglass barriers.

Reading voters also voted by mail, voted early at the Reading Public Library, and turned out in impressive numbers on Tuesday. In addition, many voters dropped off their ballots Tuesday in the Town Hall drop-off box, choosing to vote that way on election day rather than go to the high school field house. As a result, ballots weren’t all counted until after 11 p.m. with Precinct 2 the last to be counted.

Alvarado won every precinct easily. The closest margin was Precinct 8 with an 82-vote difference. The widest margin was Precinct 5 with a 323-vote difference. Following is the breakdown:

Precinct 1: Against recall 767; for recall 646.

Precinct 2: Against recall 622; for recall 411

Precinct 3: Against recall 741; for recall 486

Precinct 4: Against recall 759; for recall 461

Precinct 5: Against recall 742; for recall 419

Precinct 6: Against recall 619; for recall 370

Precinct 7: Against recall 785; for recall 515

Precinct 8: Against recall 606; for recall 524

The 5,641 votes in support of Alvarado were far more than in the April 3, 2018 local election in which Alvarado beat John Arena by 82 votes to earn a seat on the Select Board. In that win, Alvarado received 3,943 votes.

At the end of a long Tuesday night, the high tech improvements gave way to the traditional printed result strips, secured to the field house bleachers with blue painters tape. No matter how the votes were counted or how they were displayed, one thing was certain. The next Select Board meeting is Sept. 8 and Vanessa Alvarado will be there.

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