Town Election ’18: Donner, Burgess-Cox Heading To School Board As Few Voters Venture Out To The Polls

Photo: Asst. Town Clerk Meg Piccione reading the results of the Belmont Town Election on April 3.

In a town election that saw one of the lowest turnouts in the past decade, a teacher topped the ballot in the race to run the Belmont’s schools. 

In the only competitive town-wide race, newcomer Tara Donner outpaced incumbent Susan Burgess-Cox, 1,767 to 1,517, to fill the two three year seats on the school committee as fellow newbie Jill Souza Norton just missing out finishing third with 1,349 votes. School Committee Chair Lisa Fiore ran unopposed for a one-year term on the committee.

Read all the unofficial results of the town-wide and Town Meeting races here.

A last-minute write-in candidacy by well-known resident Tomi Olsen was swept aside by the vote for current School Committee member Tom Caputo who ran as the only official candidate for the Board of Selectman, garnering 2,106 votes, or 94 percent of those who cast ballots.

Over on the Town Meeting side of the ballot, some interesting results were noted including two longtime ballot toppers who just barely held onto their seats; both Lydia Ogilby (Precinct 1) and Donald Mercier (Precinct 8) both came in 12th with Mercier taking the last slot by a mere nine votes over Mark Smith.

In the race of town-wide candidates battling it out on the Town Meeting ballot, Burgess-Cox topped Caputo, 214 to 203, to “win” Precinct 2’s top spot while Precinct 1’s Peter Dizikes garnered the most votes of all the precincts with 324. In the closest race, Linda Levin-Scherz defeated Elizabeth Khan by three votes, 125-122, to take the one-year seat in Precinct 2. 

Stopping by a crowded Town Clerk’s Office to pick up the unofficial results, first-time candidate Dovie Yoana King learned she tied for second receiving 164 votes. The newly-elected Precinct 7 member said she was “very excited” to become heading to Town Meeting in a month as her presence will add much-needed diversity in Belmont’s legislative body. With her son by her side, King said she hopes to give a voice to survivors of domestic violence but also represent all people in the precinct which she noted is populated by the most varied groups in Belmont.

A cold, wet miserable afternoon and the lack of competitive races appeared to have kept residents from the polls as participation was an anemic 16.5 percent as 2,816 residents voted at Belmont’s eight precincts. This election’s number is well below the 28 percent seen last year and 22 percent in 2016. The 2015 town election which included a $3.5 million override on the ballot brought out 51 percent.

Belmont isn’t a stranger to unenthusiastic participation on election day; in 2009, only 1,438 voters or 5.89 percent of total registered voters came out. 

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