Sandwich Voters Reelect Jim Pierce As Selectman
By: Mary Stanley
Sandwich voters yesterday returned James W. Pierce to his seat on the board of selectmen and Garry N. Blank will once again preside over Town Meeting. Andrea M. Killion retained her post on the school board and will be joined by newcomers Anita M. Johnston and Travis M. Andrade. Voters also approved spending $500,000 for a new heating and cooling system at the library.
Mr. Pierce beat out candidates Timothy B. Cooney and Sean P. Rausch to win his bid for reelection, earning 997 votes to Mr. Cooney’s 668 and Mr. Rausch’s 368 votes.
“I was confident but I tried not to get overconfident. The low voter turnout had me a bit worried,” Mr. Pierce said last night after learning the results.
Less than 14 percent, only 2,112 of the 15,093 registered voters showed up to cast their ballots yesterday.
Town Clerk Taylor D. White called the turnout “depressing.”
“It was extremely quiet in the office for an election day,” said Assistant Town Clerk Susan M. Lundquist.
Mr. Andrade was the top vote-getter in the race for the school committee, earning 1,216 votes and Ms. Johnston was close behind earning 1,194 votes. Ms. Killion earned the least votes with 1,139.
Sandwich Election Results
Mr. White said while it appears that the majority of the write-in votes were for Ms. Marshall, he would not have an official count until late today, at the earliest. Sharron L. Marshall, who launched a last-minute write-in campaign, is believed to have earned 509 votes, although as of press time last night not all of those write-ins had been checked.
Ms. Marshall was not surprised by the results.
“I knew it was a long shot and I am not the least bit surprised,” she said last night. “We gave it a good try. I gave the people the option, and that’s what they asked me to do,” Ms. Marshall said in a telephone interview last night.
Mr. Blank, who served as the town’s moderator for 16 years before being absent from the lectern for the past two terms, beat out Ms. Wack by only 248 votes, and Ms. Wack said she is thrilled with the results.
“He didn’t win by a landslide, and I am absolutely thrilled with my showing,” she said. She acknowledged that Mr. Blank has name recognition in town and said she did well in the election for being new to the community.
She said she will not let the loss deter her from running for another board or committee in the future.
“I still believe that if you are living in a community, you need to get involved in the community,” she said.
This year’s ballot question asked voters to approve spending $500,000 for the new HVAC system at the library. It won by only 120 votes.
Mr. White said none of the race results was close enough to warrant a recount.
Though this was the first local election since the precincts were changed and Sandwich High School was eliminated as a polling site, Mr. White said things went fairly smoothly at each of the voting sites.
“A lot of people called the office ahead of time to confirm their precinct and voting site,” he said.
Only a few voters turned up at the high school and had to be directed to the proper polling location.
Mr. Pierce, along with Ms. Killion, Mr. Andrade, and Ms. Johnston celebrated their victories at the British Beer Company on Route 6A last night.
Mr. Pierce said there are some major issues that the town will have to face in the next three years and he is ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work.
“We have to deal with our capital problems. We have been ignoring capital needs for two decades. I am hopeful that we will come up with a 10-year capital plan. We need to line up all of our capital needs, decide what order we are going to do them and then get busy,” he said.
He added that he is hopeful that at some point in the next three years, the town will break ground on a new public safety building.
Mr. Pierce said selectmen will not only be looking for ways to increase revenue streams but also find ways to cut expenses. He said a big bite can be taken out of the town’s capital costs if the school department can find a way to consolidate the school system by closing the Henry T. Wing School, turning Oak Ridge and Forestdale into elementary schools, and moving the town’s 7th and 7th grade classes into the high school.
“We need to find a way to consolidate the schools without compromising the educational program,” he said.
He said he looks forward to working with the school board, including the two newest members, on that project.
Ms. Killion, who has been a member of the negotiation subcommittee for the past two years, said one of her priorities will be to end the stalemate over the district’s contract with the teachers.
Another priority, she said, is to make decisions about consolidating the schools.
Mr. Andrade said he looks forward to bringing a focus on early education, which includes looking into the possibility of offering a free, full-day kindergarten program. “I would like to be a voice to focus on young students. It’s something I’m passionate about,” he said.
He said there has been a lot of focus on the high school and middle school programs but he would like to see that attention paid to the younger grades. He said he does not believe that the high school program has been neglected over the past few years and that there are very good programs in place. “I don’t think it’s a matter of neglect. It’s an archaic system with weaknesses that show up in an environment that is competitive. It’s a matter of doing things differently,” he said.
Ms. Johnston said she looks forward to immersing herself in the school system and learning everything she can, especially when it comes to the financial aspects.
“I look forward to working as a group and to have a vision that develops a school system of excellence into the future,” she said.
Not all of the winning candidates were at the Route 6A restaurant celebrating. Mr. Blank celebrated his victory at home with his 3-year-old son.
“I wouldn’t say I am surprised by the win. I really felt I was the right choice, and the town recognized my past service as the moderator. I am excited about doing this job as long as they will let me. I look forward to keeping Open Town Meeting alive in Sandwich and doing my best to make the right appointments to the finance committee and capital improvements planning committee,” he said.