PEPPERELL — Even with the draw of a statewide race, the town experienced an unusually low turnout for election day, a circumstance shared by many other communities across the state.
“Turnout today was way less than usual for a statewide race,” noted Town Clerk Jeffrey Sauer at mid-morning. “If we get 10 to 15 percent this time, it will be a good day. The problem is that in the local election, there’s only two contested races. And the state primary … well, I don’t know. The last time we had a race like this was when Scott Brown ran against Martha Coakley and even those numbers were in the 15 percent range.”
But even with only 15 percent of the town’s 7,998 registered voters showing up at the polls on April 30, there still had to be winners and losers.
Residents had a raft of local elections to consider as well, including the Board of Selectmen, North Middlesex Regional School Committee and the Planning Board.
Of the local races, only a pair were contested, two by Al Buckley, who lost both races, with Michelle Gallagher besting him for a seat on the Board of Selectmen by a vote of 829 to 561 and Virginia Malouin topping him for the Board of Health by a vote of 801 to 593.
“I’m for Al Buckley,” declared Maria G. “I had him for a plumber for many years and he’s a good, honest man.”
In the uncontested races, Michael Coffey won a single-year term with the Board of Assessors by a vote of 1,130; Donna Franzek won a five-year term on the Housing Authority by a vote of 1,117; Charles Burnham and Gretchen Needham each won three-year terms to the Library Trustees with votes of 1,011 and 926, respectively, as did Ramona Reed for a two-year term with a vote of 1,124; Joseph Helfter picked up a five-year term with the Planning Board after winning 1,083 votes; Gregory Rice won a three-year term on the Board of Public Works with a vote of 1,096; Brendan McNabb won a three-year term with the Recreation Department with 1,227 votes; and with 1,197 votes, Sauer was re-elected as town clerk for another three-year term.
Finally, write-in candidate Brian Edmonds secured his first three-year term on the North Middlesex Regional School Committee with a vote of 437 as compared to last-minute challenger Caroline Ahdab, who received 125.
The 19-year-old Edmonds will replace longtime School Committee member Arnie Silva.
Edward Markey came in ahead for the Democrats with 461 votes and Gabriel Gomez for the Republicans with 383.
Of the runner-ups for the Senate seat being vacated by John Kerry, who was appointed Secretary of State by President Barack Obama, Stephen Lynch received 330 votes among Democratic voters and William Sullivan and Daniel Winslow earned 214 and 73 votes respectively from the Republicans.
Of the dedicated residents who braved perfect spring weather on election day, many were lured to the polls for the high profile senatorial contest.
“I was most interested in the senatorial campaign,” said resident David Rinas. “I like the stances of Markey and I also know Joe Helfter, who is running for the Planning Board. He’s a good guy.”
“I was a little in favor of Markey over Lynch,” admitted fellow resident Mike Carney. “But it will be interesting to find out the pulse of voters after the results are in.”
“I came to vote on the Senate race,” said Robert Rich. “I was most concerned about the gun issue.”
Although many voters were reluctant to say which issues motivated them most to come out and cast their ballots, some expressed general discontent with the tenor in Congress.
“My main interest was in the Senate race,” said Richard Howley. “I’m sick of the stuff that’s going on with the Democrats, and I see no reason to send guys up to Washington who are already part of the problem.”