Town Election Update: Ballot All Set, Good Numbers for Town Meeting (Except for Pct. 7!), A Race to Support Housing

Photo: Paul Rickter and his buddy, Anne Mahon. 

The rain really started coming down as the clock struck 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, as Belmont Town Clerks shut the door as the deadline for passing in nomination papers passed with nearly everyone who took out papers returned them.

And after all the papers were examined and certified, a preliminary town ballot was announced at 6 p.m. by Town Clerk Ellen Cushman, in which voters will have four competitive races for town-wide elected offices at April’s Town Election. 

Board of Selectmen

Alexandra Ruban, a newcomer to town (arriving in 2013) and political novice with no known involvement in town governance – she is not a Town Meeting member – will be going against incumbent Mark Paolillo who is seeking his third – and final – term on the board. Ruban’s team is made up of people who managed Selectman Jim Williams’ upset victory over Andy Rojas.

School Committee

Three very attractive candidates will be seeking two-three years seats on the committee; a venture capitalist (Sabri Murat Bicer), a child care professional who was a finalist to fill a vacant committee seat in November 2014 (Kimberly O’Mahony) and an astrophysicist who is leading the charge to start the school day later (Andrea Prestwich).

Housing Authority

Usually a quiet spot on the ballot, this year there will be two competitive races in the category. The first, for the five-year seat, will see two well-known political entities, Matt Sullivan and Anne Mahon, duke it out while Tomi Olson, who created the Payson Park Music Festival, will meet Town Meeting member Paul Rickter for the three-year seat.

The draft ballot for Belmont Town Election; April 5, 2016

Moderator (vote for one, one year)

  • Mike Widmer, candidate for re-election, for one year.

Board of Selectmen (vote for one, three years)

  • Mark Paolillo, candidate for re-election, for three years.
  • Alexandra Ruban, for three years

Town Clerk (vote for one, three years)

  • Ellen O’Brien Cushman, candidate for re-election, for three years.

Board of Assessors (vote for one, three years)

  • Charles R. Laverty, III, candidate for re-election, for three years.

Board of Cemetery Commissioners (vote for one, three years)

  • William Chemelli, candidate for re-election, for three years.

Board of Health (vote for one, three years)

  • Julie LeMay, for three years.

Members of the Housing Authority (vote for one, five years; vote for one, three years)

  • Anne Barrington Mahon, for five years.
  • Matthew Sullivan, for five years.
  • Tommasina Anne Olson, for three years.
  • Paul Rickter, for three years.

Trustees of the Public Library (vote for two for three years)

  • Mark Carthy, candidate for re-election, for three years.
  • Mary Donahue Stearns, for three years.

Members of the School Committee (vote for two for three years, vote one for one year)

  • Sabri Murat Bicer, for three years.
  • Kimberly O’Mahony, for three years
  • Andrea Prestwich, for three years.
  • Elyse Shuster, for one year. 

To see who has qualified to run for Town Meeting in the eight precincts, head to the Town Clerk’s website.

Town Meeting member races throughout Belmont, except in Precinct 7

Residents can expect campaign flyers, lawn signs and candidates at their front doors as six of eight precincts will have competitive races to fill 12 three year terms and some partial terms. 

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In precinct 1 and 8, the ballot will be overflowing with candidates as 17 will be running for the 12 seats up for grabs in Precinct 1 and Precinct 3 while 18 residents will be battling it out for 12 in Precinct 8

There will be contested races in Precinct 2 (15 candidates for 12 seats), Precinct 4 or the “husband and wife precinct” as 6 of the 14 candidates are spouses (that will be an interesting election night) and Precinct 6 with 14 for 12. Even Precinct 5, which at some elections has seen fewer candidates than seats, has come through with 12 candidates for 12 seats so everyone running has already won.

Then there is Precinct 7. With a more transient population than most of Belmont, it is always a struggle to find people who want to run for the town’s legislative body. And the lack of interest is present in just nine candidates – only five for re-election and four taking out papers – are running for Town Meeting, leaving three seats that will remain empty, to be decided by write-ins. In addition, there was no interest what so ever for the three one-year partial seats.

Rickter hopes non-profit experience leads to Housing slot

Saying he wants to be an advocate for “safe, clean affordable housing for all,” Cross Street’s Paul Rickter hopes that his “25 years of experience on non-public boards” will help convince voters to place him to be a member of the Housing Authority.

Rickter’s time includes being on the national board of the Unitarian Universalist Association, “on small boards, on search committees, and lots of other boards,” he said, as he submitted his nomination papers with fellow candidate Anne Mahon by his side.

One area Rickter will focus on is the aging Belmont Village complex including using Community Preservation Committee funds to shore up the facility.

“Not everyone is excited about using money for it but it needs to be done. The key is to make sure we are serving that community,” said Rickter.

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