“Surprise” does not really describe the results from Tuesday’s annual election. There was never any clear front runner in either the Selectman or the School Committee race. Denise Brotherton won reelection to the Board of Selectman with a comfortable 837 votes, about 100 more than the closest competitor. But Auburn voters signaled a change, as they elected newcomer Dan Carpenter over the other incumbent, Robert Grossman.
For School Committee, Jessica Harrington also won by about 100 votes. But only about 20 votes separated second place finisher Gail Holloway and the third place finisher, Dorothy Sutton. As candidates and their supporters were filtering out of the Auburn High gymnasium, Sutton was considering her recount options, but no decision had been made as of press time.
In all, 1,931 ballots were cast. This is just 16.7% of all registered voters. However, Town Clerk Ellen Gaboury said the turnout was not unusual for a Town election.
The final results were:
Board of Selectmen
*Brotherton 837 votes
*Harrington 1048 votes
Elected in the unopposed races were Town Moderator Charles A. Baker, library trustees Suzette C. Dowd and Matthew A. Toth, and Southern Worcester County Regional Vocational School Committee member Donald H. Erickson. The Town Meeting member races could not be determined as of press time due to the large numbers of write-in votes. In particular, Precinct 4 had vacancies for two unexpired terms for which there were no candidates. All other precincts except for Precinct 1 had seats with no candidate.
A red faced and exhausted Dan Carpenter entered the AHS Gym lobby around 7:50pm last night to await the vote results. He was surrounded by some of his close friends and family. This year’s Selectman’s race has been tough. Fortunately for Dan, most of the negativity in this race has not been directed at him.
Carpenter said he personally knocked on 600-700 doors and disturbed a lot of residents. Yet he says, “Everybody was so courteous and so giving. When you talk to people, they set the agenda. You work for them.”
Carpenter’s priority will be to hold the residential/business tax split for 2 years. While he’s “grateful for all the investment of businesses”, residential tax payers need a break. They are permanently paying for two prop 2-1/2 overrides and temporarily funding two debt exclusions for building the high school and new middle school.
His other priority is to look at further charter reforms. He would like to see voters more involved with the composition of some boards and committees, getting people back into government.
“Winning a race like this is not an individual effort. It’s a team sport” Carpenter added.
New School Committee member Jessica Harrington stood with family and friends and accepted congratulations from the many people gathered in the AHS gymnasium lobby. “I’m excited and ready to get to work” she said. Harrington has a lot of respect for the hard work of her predecessors. “I hope to accomplish what Liz Gribbons and Lee Ann Gibree have started.”
On winning her first ever elections, Harrington added, “This campaign was a learning process. With a four-year-old and a seven-year-old there was a lot to juggle!”
The other new School Committee candidate, Gail Holloway, was happy to be getting back involved with the schools. A retired teacher, Holloway said, “I’m very glad I’ll have a chance to continue looking out for the students of Auburn.”
Congratulations to all the newly elected officials. Also, a sincere thanks to outgoing six term Selectman, Robert Grossman. Auburn owes you a debt of gratitude for your service to our community.