On May 22, Mattapoisett poll workers saw 252 voters, or a mere 5.35% voter turnout, face the daunting task of voting on a ballot that contained absolutely no contested races.
Perhaps, though, this task was not as daunting to the voters as it was for Town Clerk Catherine Heuberger and her team of poll workers who faced a long day of waiting to serve the public inside Old Hammondtown School. To pass the time, the team said they spent the hours getting to know one another and eating great food catered by local venues.
But later in the evening after polls closed at 8:00 pm, write-in votes for the ballot’s blank five-year seat on the Planning Board slowed the counting down to a snail’s pace as 77 ballots were hand tallied.
When all the counting was done, a relative newcomer to the community, Arlene Fidalgo, won the seat with 34 votes.
Fidalgo recently retired from her job with Comcast and has lived in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts her entire life. Fidalgo said her professional background was as a technical operations manager for Comcast with the responsibility of 115 cities and towns throughout the region with a staff of 110 employees. After taking the last two years to focus on relaxing, she said she was ready to put her energy into the community.
Coming in second place for Planning Board with 28 votes as a write-in candidate was Mike King, the chairman of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission, an appointed position.
Seeking re-election was Board of Selectman incumbent Paul Silva for another three-year term. Silva received 205 votes.
When asked for a comment on the re-election, he said, “I’m happy to have won re-election and go for another three years working on new things and what we’ve been working on over the past nine years.”
Other incumbents re-elected: Moderator (one year), John Eklund with 213 votes; two seats for Community Preservation Committee (three years), Jodi Bauer with 210 votes and John Decosta with 205 votes; Water/Sewer Commissioner (three years), Albert Meninno with 205 votes; Highway Surveyor (three years), Barry Denham with 209 votes; Assessor (three years), Leonard Coppola with 201 votes; two seats on the Mattapoisett School Committee (three years), Carole Clifford with 204 votes and James Muse with 192 votes; Board of Health (three years), Russell Bailey with 199 votes.
Non-incumbents elected: Trustee of Public Library (one year), Marcia Waldron, 213 votes; two seats for Trustee of Public Library (three years), William Osier with 185 votes and Elizabeth Sylvia with 203 votes; Mattapoisett Housing Authority (five years), John Vaughn with 204 votes.
One of the biggest decisions that voters faced was a ballot question that asked voters to decide whether or not to exempt from the provisions of Proposition 2½ for general repairs and improvements to roads within the town, known as Phase VIII Road Infrastructure Improvement Plan. The question passed, 171-54.
As the poll workers wrapped up the night, putting away chairs and cleaning off tables, they softly cajoled one another saying, “Make sure you take a sandwich home!”
By Marilou Newell