Mashpee Town Voting May 21, 2019

Mashpee poll worker Merry Sue Ahlgren checks in Jack and Kathleen Looney as poll worker Colleen Meehan looks on Tuesday.

Selectman Carol A. Sherman coasted to victory during Tuesday’s election, securing her fourth term to the Mashpee Board of Selectmen by outpacing challenger Shane L. Clark.

On Tuesday evening inside Parish of Christ the King, after town clerk Deborah F. Dami announced the raw voting numbers, Ms. Sherman hugged her two granddaughters and then received a congratulatory handshake from Mr. Clark, who told her the board was doing great work.

Ms. Sherman received 764 votes to Mr. Clark’s 583. Her biggest victory came in Precinct 5, her home precinct and also home to Popponesset and New Seabury. Ms. Sherman is a resident of Monomoscoy.

Asked if she had a special message to Mashpee voters after the election, Ms. Sherman said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

A small crowd of sunburned pollsters and candidates huddled inside the lobby of the church, waiting for the numbers to come in along with Ms. Sherman and Mr. Clark. Tuesday was a sunny day to greet voters.

Mr. Clark, who lives in Precinct 3, said that he accomplished what he set out to do: give voters an option. With his challenge, Ms. Sherman and her actions were held to account more in the public eye, he said.

As to what is next, Mr. Clark said that he would stay involved and might look to selectmen for advice on a committee to join. “Let’s keep moving forward,” he said.

A total of 1,391 residents voted, or 12.5 percent of the 11,000 registered voters and just under 10 percent of the entire population. Tuesday’s turnout was down from last year’s 1,449 voters (which was mostly uncontested), and down from 2017’s turnout of 1,458.

Ms. Sherman said she looks forward to the next three years. Her priority, she said, is to keep the discussion moving on the issues of wastewater, economic development, and workforce and affordable housing.

As chairman of the board of selectmen, Ms. Sherman has prided herself on pulling together all of the town’s regulatory boards to discuss the three top issues facing the town. She said the next step is to discuss all three issues as a group to set the wheels in motion.

The only real change to come from Tuesday’s results was to the Mashpee Planning Board, where two seats were available. Incumbent David W. Weeden was defeated by challengers John F. Phelan and Joseph D. Callahan in a tight race.

Mr. Phelan, Mashpee Fire’s deputy chief, received the most votes with 774, followed by Mr. Callahan, who works in local real estate, with 724. Mr. Weeden received 642. Write-in candidate Theresa Ronhock received 100 votes.

The incumbent won in Precinct 3, the northernmost section of town, but the New Seabury precinct again provided the big push for the two challengers. Mr. Callahan won the precinct by a spread of 80 votes, about the same margin by which he beat out Mr. Weeden.

Mr. Weeden took to social media after the election, where he congratulated his challengers and had a humble message. He said that he “truly enjoyed working with each of the Planning Board members,” and that he has a “lot of respect for all the work that goes into serving and wish all the best moving forward.”

The change on the five-member planning board comes at an interesting time. The board is set to rule on a contentious cellphone tower proposed by the board of selectmen for a town-owned parcel on Red Brook Road.

Also, the change at the board follows a number of contentious hearings with the Mashpee Commons, which is looking to expand its existing footprint. The Commons is looking at a zoning change called form-based code, while the former planning board had pushed for conservation and affordable housing in the expansion. Mr. Weeden played an active part in asking questions of Mashpee Commons representatives.

The planning board last had a contested race in Mashpee 10 years ago, when current chairman Mary E. Waygan and board member Dennis H. Balzarini beat out Albert Wickel.

Mr. Weeden was the only Mashpee Wampanoag citizen, or non-Caucasian for that matter, sitting on a Mashpee regulatory board aside from the historic district commission.

Mr. Phelan ran on a campaign of updating the town’s comprehensive plan and zoning, although he has also spoken publicly in favor of better cell service for the southern part of Mashpee. He criticized accusations of radiation from towers and the effect on property values during Town Meeting last year, and spoke in favor of better service as a public-safety concern.

Mr. Callahan said that he was overwhelmed with the show of support on Tuesday. As a challenger, he said, he ran his campaign on smart growth. While he acknowledged that the town needs to grow, he is in favor of building housing in places that have already been developed, like Mashpee Commons.

In other races, Don D. Myers kept his seat on the Mashpee School Committee, beating out Catherine A. Lewis and Elana C. Doyle.

Reached after Tuesday’s election, Mr. Myers said that he wished the voter turnout was better but that he was glad with the results and that he looked forward to serving another three years.

The school committee incumbent said that he hopes to continue to highlight the programs that “really shine” for Mashpee, including the music department and the technology department, in an effort to get the message out to interest potential students in Mashpee.

His concern moving forward is the budget. The schools have been forced to use more school choice funds that they received last year, which Mr. Myers said is unsustainable. As to next year’s budget season, Mr. Myers said that he has never been afraid to advocate for the schools.

Mr. Myers, however, lost his bid for a seat on the Mashpee Water District Board of Commissioners, losing to former town planner F. Thomas Fudala.

In uncontested races, Jill Allen received a five-year seat on the Mashpee Housing Authority; Mary J. LeClair and Amanda C. Hall retained seats on the Mashpee Library Board of Trustees, and town moderator Jeremy M. Carter will remain the town moderator.

By the numbers, Precinct 5 had the best turnout, with 417 voters or 17 percent of the registered voters. Precincts 1 and 2 had 13 percent turnout, and Precincts 3 and 4 had a 10 percent turnout.

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