PEPPERELL — Lisa Ferolito was elected Pepperell town clerk Monday, according to unofficial election results.
Ferolito received 648 votes. Her opponents were Jennifer Hardy with 616 votes, Debra Durno with 516 votes and Anna MacDonald with 199 votes.
“I’m humbled by how many people have faith in me to do a good job, and I’ll do the best job I can,” Ferolito said as the final votes were being tallied Monday night.
In the election’s only other contested race, voters chose incumbent Debbie Nutter as the treasurer and tax collector.
Nutter, who was appointed when the position became vacant last May, won with 1,269 votes to challenger Laura Angle’s 537.
“I’m relieved and excited. It’s been a tough fight for everyone, but the sportsmanship and the camaraderie have been great,” Nutter said.
A ballot question on approving a town charter passed by 1,180 votes to 828. Under the charter, the town administrator will have more power over the budget process and appointing department heads, the town clerk and treasurer/tax collector positions will become appointed rather than elected and the town will have a strong fire chief, rather than a Board of Fire Engineers.
Joe Sergi, chairman of the Charter Commission, said he was thrilled with the results.
“This will give us a more efficient and transparent government, and during these difficult fiscal times it will help us to get better control of the cost of local government. We’re moving in the right direction,” Sergi said.
Pepperell resident Melissa Tzanoudakis, who is also the Chairwoman of the Finance Committee, said at the polls Monday that she supported the charter in part because of its impact on the budgeting process.
“I think it’ll make things more efficient. There’s a few things that aren’t as streamlined as they could be, particularly the budget process. The town administrator needs that power to make sure the budget is streamlined,” Tzanoudakis said.
Resident Sharon Ofenstein said the charter made sense for the town.
“I’ve lived in towns that have charters and I think it works better to have a more centralized, more modern way of town government,” Ofenstein said.
Frank Dunn voted against the charter because he was concerned about its possible ramifications.
“It’s too much power for the fire chief and town administrator,” Dunn said.
Voters also supported a debt exclusion vote to fund construction of a new North Middlesex Regional High School, 1,216 votes to 800.
Voter turnout was 2,096 out of 8,022 registered voters, or about 26 percent.
Town Clerk Jeffrey Sauer, who is leaving the position at the end of this week to move to New York with his family, said he was surprised by the relatively low voter turnout.
“I would have thought the question about the high school, which would bring a significant increase in the taxes and has to do with supporting education, would bring more people out. I don’t know what more you want on the ballot then something that affects people that directly,” Sauer said.
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