WINCHESTER - Tomorrow, from 7 a.m. - 8 p.m., residents will cast their vote in the annual spring town election at the usual polling places: Muraco School (precincts 1 and 2), McCall Middle School (precincts 3 and 4), Vinson-Owen School (precincts 5 and 6), and Lynch School (precincts 7 and 8). With good weather, several important, contested races and a ballot question pertaining to prop two-and-a-half, Town Clerk MaryEllen Lannon hopes for a decent turnout.
So far, according to the town clerk, 450 people requested an absentee or early vote-by-mail application and 300 were returned. Thanks to the coronavirus, residents could vote by mail for the spring town election without an excuse, similar to last year’s presidential election. In fact, state legislators pushed the deadline to vote by mail without an excuse to June so residents of any community with upcoming elections are eligible to vote by mail without an excuse.
In Winchester, there are three contested races on the ballot. For the Select Board, the candidates are incumbent Michael Bettencourt, John Stevens, Rich Mucci, and Roger Wilson; for the Board of Health the candidates are Maureen Pimentel, Ruth Trimarchi and Kelly Cormey; and for the School Committee the candidates are Allison Kangas de Bellalta, Shamus Brady, Thomas Hopcroft, and Joanna Boylan.
Other candidates include: Town Moderator Heather von Mering, Assessor Paul Manganaro (incumbent), Planning Board Sally Dale and Iching Katie Scott (two candidates for two seats), and Library Board of Trustees Jane Murray (incumbent).
Besides the contested races, the other important reason to show up tomorrow concerns the ballot question that asks to raise residents’ property taxes to pay for culvert work behind the Muraco School and repairs to the school building itself. The question reads:
“Shall the Town of Winchester be allowed to exempt from the provisions of proposition two and one-half, so called, the amounts required to pay for the bonds issued in order to install additional culverts behind the Muraco Elementary School for flood mitigation purposes and to make extraordinary repairs to the Muraco Elementary School, including engineering expenses and all other costs incidental and related thereto?”
The question doesn’t contain a cost estimate, because that will come before town meeting next month. Town Engineer Beth Rudolph, meanwhile, suggested upwards of $9M for the project if shovels hit dirt in two years. Any delay would increase the price by $1M or more depending on how long the delay lasts.
The Select Board already approved $410,000 for engineering firm VHB to start design work. If approved, this would be the last flood mitigation project in town. The project already has the backing of State Senator Jason Lewis who stopped by a Select Board meeting earlier this year.
Sen. Lewis referred to flood mitigation work as an “arduous process” since the town needs state approval for any project, as it can’t make flooding worse for those downstream.
“I’m just here to add my voice to help see flood mitigation through to the end,” the senator stressed. “I want to thank (former Select Board member) Jim Johnson, (Assistant Town Manager) Mark Twogood, (former Town Counsel) Wade Welch, current and former members of the board, (former town managers) Mel Kleckner and Richard Howard, and (current Town Manager) Lisa Wong.”
Sen. Lewis added: “This has been an ambitious and successful program.”
Town meeting seats
In Precincts 1-8: There shall be elected eight town meeting members in eight precincts for a total of 64 town meeting members elected on March 30, 2021. Each term will be a three-year term unless otherwise noted:
George Nowell, Jr*
One under endorsed – eligible for write in candidate
Theodore Michalski, Jr.
Maryanne McCall Taylor*
Candace Van Aken*
Mary Kay McIntyre
Francis Sabatino* Noha Soliman
John R. Wiseman, IV*
Christopher D. Corvi
Rebecca C. Tellefsen
Precinct 7 one-year vacancy*
Under endorsed- eligible for write in candidate
Martin Mahoney, II*
Heather von Mering*
Two under endorsed – eligible for write in candidate