Hanson opts for Hickey, Kemmett and change
HANSON — Hanson voters looked to voices of change as former Recreation Commission Chairman Jim Hickey garnered 579 votes as the top finisher in a four-person race. Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett was also elected as a Selectman with 543 votes. Incumbent Selectman Bill Scott fell short with 422 votes and former Selectman Jim Egan received 348.
The turnout in Hanson was 14 percent of the town’s registered voters.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Hickey as he stopped by Whitman Town Hall for post-election interview with Whitman-Hanson Community Access TV. “I really think the people wanted a change.”
The former baseball and softball coach, stressed he is not a politician, but that his recent work as chairman of the Recreation Commission gave him a glimpse of how things worked — and he didn’t like it.
“Somebody had to step up and I was the one always complaining, so I stepped up,” he said. “I’m so glad that it’s Laura and I, to be honest, because I think we will work well together.”
He said he thinks they will learn and listen to the town. Hickey, who has used a Facebook page to offer Hanson residents a voice on the issues, pledged to keep that going now that he has been elected. He stressed his telephone number is also listed in the book.
“If anybody wants to talk to me, I’ll be more than happy to listen,” he said.
FitzGerald-Kemmett said she wants to support people who seek positive change in town.
“I’d like to bring the community together, and I guess that must have resonated with enough people that I got the votes that I got,” she told WHCA. “But the hard work begins now.”
After that interview, FitzGerald-Kemmett told the Express that she had been nervous, but Selectman Kenny Mitchell said he had predicted before 3 p.m. Saturday that Hickey and FitzGerald-Kemmett would be the winners.
“I’m in a state of shock,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said of her win. “I was really hopeful, but it’s just so unpredictable. … You hope you’ve connected with them somehow, but you just can’t be certain. To me the message that came across loud and clear is we’re sick of this divide, divide, divide.”
She points to the closure of Maquan School and the district school budget as pressing issues. She also indicated she may volunteer for the Highway Building Subcommittee to ensure transparency for the taxpayers on that issue.
Contacted by phone at his home, Scott declined to comment on the election results. FitzGerald-Kemmett offered a salute to the work Scott and Selectman Bruce Young had done on the board and thanked Egan for the race he ran.
Egan, for his part, said he “anticipated that I would not be elected” but was surprised he did not do better.
Mitchell also offered a tip of his cap to Scott during a WHCA-TV interview with Kevin Tocci and Bob Hayes.
“I’m disappointed that Bill Scott didn’t get in,” Mitchell said. “Bill and I have done a lot on the board over the past [few] years. But it’s always nice to see two new faces, too. … I can work with anyone, so I’m looking forward to working with both of them.”
Mitchell, like FitzGerald-Kemmett, cited the highway barn, the future of the Plymouth County Hospital site and the Maquan School closure as important issues facing the town.
Whitman returns Kowalski, picks LaMattina for Board of Selectmen
WHITMAN — Receiving 680 votes in a four-person race, Selectmen Chairman Dr. Carl Kowalski was re-elected on Saturday, May 20. Finance Committee member Randy LaMattina was also elected to the Board of Selectmen with 626 votes. Newcomers Laura Howe, with 389 votes and Nita Sault, with 188 votes rounded out the field.
Whitman voters also passed a $310,000 Proposition 2 ½ override question to add three more firefighters to Whitman Fire-Rescue beginning July 1 by a margin of 591 for the override and 409 against.
Ten percent of the town’s 10,34 registered voters — 1,126 — cast ballots.
LaMattina said he was grateful for the result and credited his opponents for their well-run campaigns.
“I’m kind of shocked that I came so close to an incumbent like that,” he said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the result. … I think [the campaign] exemplified everything that is right with politics today.”
Kowalski, for his part, confessed after the result was announced, that he had been nervous during the day.
“I like the people I was running against and I know they did a good job and I felt they were getting out the vote for them,” he said. “It was kind of nice to hear the results come in, and I’m just glad it’s over. I’m looking forward to the next three years.”
He said he feels for Howe and Sault for all the work they put into campaigning, adding he hopes they continue to stay involved in the town. Both Howe and Sault were gracious in defeat as all four candidates present at Town Hall for voting results offered comments. Selectmen and School Committee winners were sworn in by Town Clerk Dawn Varley following the result announcements.
“I wished we got more voters out,” said Howe who added the rainy weather over the previous several days had made campaigning difficult. “I only came here to make a stand because my voice wasn’t heard, and the fact I came in third and did well, I’m very happy.”
Sault said her campaign was one of the best things she has ever done in her life.
“One-fifth of the vote for someone who’s only been back in town for a year and fighting cancer at the same time,” Sault said was an encouraging result. “I’m ready to serve the town in any capacity, it doesn’t matter, and I’m very happy that Carl was re-elected. He’s done a lot for the town, so I’m very happy.”
Sault said she valued the experience of participating in candidate forums helped her learn to think on her feet.
“It was nothing but a win-win situation for me, anyway,” she said. “I have wonderful friends in town so I feel very, very blessed.”
LaMattina said old-school campaigning “outside of the Facebook world” — although he did use social media — made the difference for him.
Fire Chief Timothy Grenno, meanwhile, leaned heavily on social media to inform voters of his department’s personnel needs.
“Once the taxpayers saw the facts and were educated on the issue, they supported it,” Grenno said. “I did a total social media campaign this time. We had some good discussions and I think it was a great way to educate the people and I thank them whole-heartedly for coming out and supporting us. It helps us help them.”
He said he put the information out there and let the taxpayers vote.
“I’m very excited,” Grenno said. “I had faith in the Whitman taxpayers. I knew that they wouldn’t let us down. I know that they support public safety, they always have and I think they always will.”
In a three-person race for School Committee in Whitman, incumbents Steven Bois (693 votes) and Alexandra Taylor (549 votes) edged challenger Marshall Ottina (459 votes).
“It wasn’t a popularity contest, it was more than that,” Bois said. “It was about students. It’s not about me serving.”
Bois said that, if anyone else had won, the important people to keep in mind are the district’s students.
“We carve ourselves in a way to make sure the students have 21st century technology, 21st century materials — the best of the best when it comes to our teachers, which we’ve always seen,” he said.
Taylor said that while Ottina was close to her in a couple of precincts, she wasn’t really worried about the outcome.
“I just leave it up to the powers that be and I know it will all work out in the end,” she said. “I think my experience on the School Committee, knowing how it works, knowing how things need to be done, I think that helped.”