By Anne O’Connor
Sheila C. Harrington, R-Groton, won a third term as state representative for the First Middlesex District and Nashoba Valley residents overwhelmingly supported Democrat Hillary Clinton over President-elect Donald Trump in an election that brought out nearly 80 percent of local voters.
Voters in Ayer, Groton, and Shirley supported Clinton over Trump, with only Townsend and Pepperell voting for the Republican winner.
By the time all the unofficial results were tallied, Harrington won 14,954 to 7,969. Running against Harrington for seat was political newcomer Matthew Meneghini, a 24-year-old Democrat from Groton.
Town clerks expected a late night Tuesday, in part due to an overwhelming turnout from early voters in the first year the practice was allowed in Massachusetts. Before releasing official tallies, they had to put all the early-voting and absentee ballots in the box and count write-in votes.
“It’s gone very smoothly,” said Townsend Town Clerk Kathy Spofford at dinner-time on Election Day. “I’m hoping counting will go as well as the day has gone.”
In a first, the Townsend Emergency Management Agency was stationed in North Middlesex Regional High School for much of the day. It was a long walk down the corridor, said Director Shirley Coit, and they were there to help anyone who needed assistance.
Despite the early votes, there were still lines at the polls. At 6:30 a.m., Pepperell Town Clerk Lisa Ferolito took pity on the voters in line outside that she let them into the building. They could not vote until 7 a.m., she said.
Final results for Shirley were not available by Wednesday afternoon, deadline for the Nashoba Valley Voice.
The state representative race was low-key. Both candidates and their supporters held signs on election day but few yard signs were in evidence.
Supporters gathered at Harrington’s home after the polls closed but began to leave before any official results came in. In a text sent at 1:12 a.m. on Wednesday, Harrington said that Meneghini conceded with some of the results reported.
Harrington said she plans to set her goals for the next term based on the results of the ballot questions. During her tenure, she has worked with each of the towns in the district to obtain state funding for municipal priorities.
Meneghini said his interests center on environmental issues and improving the transportation infrastructure.
After attending an event for millennials interested in politics, he decided to run. “I realized that I cared a lot about a number of progressive political items, but hadn’t stepped up to make it happen,” he said.
During the early voting he campaigned extensively in Groton, Townsend, Pepperell and Ayer, he wrote in an email. His election night plan was to spend a quiet night at home watching the results.
Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter and Tout @a1oconnor.