Curbside, School Bond Fail; SB2, Contracts Pass
6,500 ballots weren't enough for an unprecedented election.
More people turned out for the 2012 Salem town and school elections than any of its kind in recent memory.
The town and school district printed 6,500 ballots, 50 percent more ballots than the approximately 4,400 cast in the 2010 election, which also had a school renovation bond up for consideration.
By the scheduled poll closing time of 7 p.m., all six locations ran out of ballots. Ballots then had to be photocopied and after the extended poll closing at 8 p.m., those ballots had to be hand-counted.
Originally, ballots were expected to be counted and results reported by 8:30 p.m. Because so many votes had to be hand-counted, that extended past midnight.
Town Moderator Chris Goodnow, who expressed apologies throughout the evening for what happened and bore sole responsibility for the problems, said 6,836 ballots were cast in this election, representing about a 40 percent turnout.
When the results were tallied and reported at just before 2 a.m., the voices of Salem voters could finally be heard loud and clear.
A nonbinding referendum on curbside pickup was soundly defeated by a 5,353-1,466 margin.
This coming Saturday will be the final second deliberative session of town meeting (where a binding article on curbside pickup will be considered) after an article to adopt the SB 2 form of town government shattered the required 60 percent majority to win 4,342 to 1,577.
The school renovation bond on the school warrant, which would have bonded $21.5 million to renovate the Fisk, Soule and Haigh Schools, fell short of the needed 60 percent majority by about 300 votes, failing with 3,654 in favor and 2,928 against.
All 10 union contracts on both sides of the ballot passed, attempts to change the Planning and Zoning Boards from elected to appointed failed, both town and school operating budgets passed while a requirement for sprinklers in some new homes in Salem was repealed.
Jim Keller and Everett McBride were elected selectmen, defeating Ron Belanger, Tony McKeon and Carl Swiderski.
"I'm very, very excited," said McBride. "Every issue I campaigned on went exactly the way I asked voters to support it."
McBride said he plans to continue to push the conservative issues he championed during the campaign.
"I'm thrilled," Keller said. "We worked hard and I'm glad we worked hard. It was pretty darn close. I'm humbled and it's time to get to work."
Belanger was upset with the voting problems in the election and said voters were "disenfranchised" after the polling hours were extended to 8 p.m. He felt some voters may not have been aware that would happen and left before 7 p.m.
"That's over with," Belanger said. "You don't cry over spilt milk. You go forward. I'm sure both of them will do a good job."
Bob Bryant, Dane Hoover and incumbent Paul Huard were elected to the Budget Committee; Paul Pelletier and incumbent Phyllis O'Grady were elected to the Planning Board and incumbent Patricia Frydryck was elected to the Supervisors of the Checklist in the only other contested races.
Michael Carney, Jr. and incument Pamela Berry won an uncontested election for School Board.