ADAMS, Mass. — Voters seem bent on completely reconstituting the Board of Selectmen, ousting another chairman on Monday night and selected a newcomer and a former selectman to fill two three-year seats on the board.
In a low turnout, Scott Nichols, a former selectman and athletic director at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, was returned to the board with 638 votes, besting his closest competiter, Paula Melville, by 101 votes.
Melville, a member of the Finance Committee, received 537, enough to place her in the second seat that was up for election.
Donald R. Sommer, who was elected to the board in 2007, failed to garner enough votes for a second term, polling only 432 votes.
Victors Scott Nichols and Paula Melville were a little red-faced from standing in the sun out on Summer Street with campaign signs.
Sommer was chairman of the Finance Committe and his election three years ago was fueled in part by his criticism of the board's handling of the town budget. But the since then, the board's gone through some rough waters as a number of actions taken by the Selectmen — especially over the firing of a town administrator — have caused controversery.
Last year, two selectmen including the then chairman were ousted in favor of two newcomers. Sommers, picking up the reins, pledged a more open and transparent board and fiscal responsibility. It apparently wasn't enough.
"I did the best I could. People didn't like the way I did them," said Sommer, 75, who declined to speculate more on his defeat. "I'll have more time with my horses."
A Nichols/Melville victory seemed assured as the numbers were read off from the five precincts. Sommer quickly turned to Melville as the last precinct was called and congratulated her.
"I was a little nervous because of the turnout but I'm pretty happy with the results," said Nichols, who declined to run after a single term in 2006. "I'm looking forward to working with the board."
Nichols said he needed to get back up to speed with the issues the board's been working on. He'd like to see some forward movement on the master planning process.
Nichols said both his opponents had run good campaigns. "I know Paula worked very hard and I thought Don Sommer was doing a good job."
Melville was a little giddy with victory. "I think my parents would be proud."
Donald Sommer, left, shakes hands with former colleague Joseph R. Dean Jr., who turned in his selectman's cap for town moderator.
"I think it's great a woman is going to be on the board, we bring a different perspectives," continued Melville adding she, too, was looking forward with working with her fellow selectman, citing the schools and expanding the tax base as issues she thought it should tackle."
Town Clerk Paul Hutchison was disappointed with the turnout: "Lousy." He did, however, say the newest location for the polls at the Department of Public Works garage had worked out well despite a couple glitches. "You always have growing pains."
Some 1,030 ballots were cast, or 17 percent of the town's 5,994 registered voters. The selectmen were the only race on the ballot and a number of town meeting seats went empty. Some 285 blank ballots were cast for selectmen.
Longtime Selectman Joseph R. Dean Jr. ran for moderator this year, besting all the selectman candidates by toting up 874 votes while running unopposed. Also elected unopposed were Treasurer/Collector Holly Denault, three years; Assessor Charles J. Welch, three years; Board of Health member Roy Thompson, three years; Planning Board member Michael O'Brien, five years; Library Trustee Juliet Wilk-Chaffee, three years; Cemetery Commission Lawrence Clairmont, three years; Northern Berkshire Vocational School Committee (McCann) member Joseph Allard, three years, and Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee members Paul Butler and John Duval, three years.
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