The early results are in for Reading’s local election, and while it looks John Arena has been elected to the Board of Selectmen by a sizable margin, the races for Board of Assessors and the Reading Municipal Light Department were much, much closer.
According to unofficial results taken directly from the polls, Arena defeated challenger Karen Gately Herrick by a margin of 2,266 votes to 1,477—a gap of 789 votes.
Arena said he felt gratified by the margin of his victory, but thinks he could have done even better.
“Frankly, I think I could have kicked it up,” said Arena following his victory speech at RCTV Studios. “If I hadn’t had the work pressures, I think I could have campaigned a little more vigorously ... The trouble with a small town is that you can’t tell if you’re ahead or not.”
Elsewhere, the other two contested races were separated by just a handful of votes, and Marsie West will join Mary Ellen O’Neill on the RMLD Board of Commissioners, as she edged out Richard Hahn by less than 40 votes.
“I knew it was close,” said West, who didn’t find out she had won until she was called to the control room at RCTV. “It feels good, it’s been an interesting process. It’s tough when you’re running against an incumbent. This is a really positive statement for the fact that people heard what I was talking about in terms of RECs.”
As West has previously told Patch, her campaign was a one-issue affair, centering on the issue of Renewable Energy Certificates.
In somewhat of a surprise, Bob Quinn defeated Camille Anthony for a seat on the Board of Assessors, garnering 1,915 votes compared to 1,731 for Anthony, who after 18 years on the Board of Selectmen has been ousted from town government by the voters.
West was originally projected to lose, but a slight gaffe in the reporting of the numbers revealed that she had indeed ousted Hahn, the incumbent, from the RMLD Board. She was originally thought to have lost by 14 votes, but after a recount, it was determined she was the winner—by a mere 36 votes.
West said that, apart from RECs, she wants to make the RMLD Board’s decision making process as transparent as possible.
“I want that to be an open easy to understand process,” she said. “I don’t want the public wondering how did we come to this big decision. It’s a publicly owned utility. It’s important that people know that.”
In the other elections, Chris Caruso was reelected to the School Committee, while Robert Spadafora returns to the committee after an absence of several years.
Alan Foulds will return as moderator, and Andrew Grimes and Alice Collins will join the Library Board of Trustees.
There were two questions on the ballot this year, and Reading voters said yes to both of them.
First, the question was whether to authorize the Board of Selectmen to enter into a new three-year contract with Town Manager Peter Hechenbleikner, and the second question was to modify the budget process to require the Town Manager to consult with the BoS on the municipal portion of the budget before submitting it to the Finance Committee.
Both measures passed by a wide margin.
Reminder: All numbers are unofficial at this point, but Patch will update this story with the final results as soon as they are available, along with the local results of the primary elections.
Here are the results of the contested elections by precinct:
Board of SelectmenPrecinct 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Totals John Arena 407 260 230 270 250 249 306 294 2266 Karen Gately Herrick 198 162 179 195 203 122 189 229 1477
Board of AssessorsPrecinct 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Totals Bob Quinn 291 261 208 223 198 211 276 267 1915 Camille Anthony 277 171 197 236 251 155 211 233 1731
RMLD Board of CommissionersPrecinct 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Totals Mary Ellen O'Neill 303 242 278 271 269 231 284 257 2105 Marsie West 266 183 188 245 218 143 214 218 1675 Richard Hahn 259 191 186 184 215 150 227 227 1639