Town Election: winners are Debbie DeMuria and Joan Frank; women rule Southborough’s big boards

by beth on May 11, 2022

Post image for Town Election: winners are Debbie DeMuria and Joan Frank; women rule Southborough’s big boards

Above: Debbie DeMuria won her campaign to serve on the Planning Board. (photo by Beth Melo)

Debbie DeMuria won the race for the Planning Board last night. According to the unofficial results*, she captured 58% of the vote. Alan Belniak received 40%. Belniak asked me to share a message from him. You can scroll down for that.

Only 2% of voters who participated left their votes blank for that seat (and there were two write ins.) 

With DeMuria’s win, and the uncontested addition of Kathy Cook to the Select Board, there are a couple things worth highlighting.

First, the majority of seats on both boards will be held by women. I am doubtful that has been the case for either boards in the past. (If someone knows of an instance, please post a comment!)

Women have had the majority role on other Town committees, but not generally ones vested with the amount of authority that generally rests in these two boards. The closest contenders may be the Board of Health, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Southborough School Committee, and the Regional School Committee. Currently, women make up the majority of members of half of those (BOH and the School Committee).

Second, the election leaves vacancies on the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Advisory Committee. If you’re looking to be considered for either, you may want to click here to submit a volunteer form. 

Now more highlights from the results:

677 voters participated in the Southborough election. That’s 9% of those registered to vote.

The only other race on the ballot was for a Northborough representative on the Regional School Committee. Incumbent Joan Frank will keep her seat. 

Frank won the votes in both towns with 62% of the vote. In Southborough, she received 59% of the vote with 26% going to William Barlow Redfern. 14% of Southborough’s voters opted not to cast a vote in that race, double that of Northborough.

The biggest vote getter on Southborough’s ballot was Marguerite Landry of the Library Board of Trustees, with 548 votes, 81%.

With so many uncontested seats, it’s natural that there were many blanks. But there was a notable increase in blanks and write-ins under the Select Board. 27% of total potential votes for the two seats were left blank and 3% were write-ins. Of the potential votes one candidate could receive, Cook received 71% and Sam Stivers 70%.

As promised, below is a message from Alan Belniak that he asked me to share:

Residents of Southborough – you voted Debbie DeMuria as your next Planning Board member. And with that vote, Southborough wins. While I personally wish the outcome were different, I believe that we as a town win.

A friend and EDC colleague stated it eloquently in a recent MySouthborough blog post comment: “We are fortunate to have a contested race of two experienced and qualified candidates …”

I think that I have a strong background that can contribute to the planning board. However, Debbie does as well, with her ZBA experience and knowledge about town. She is tuned in to what many voters and residents are interested in, and that is such a strong asset to have as a Planning Board member.

Through this election process, I got to know Debbie a little bit, from an email here and there, to chatting amicably at the transfer station and even in front of Trottier on election day/eve, with her and her family. I’m thankful we each ran honest, wholesome campaigns. The messaging and competition never got messy or went askew. It is refreshing to know that the democratic process is alive and well in Southborough, and gives me hope for future elections.

I congratulated Debbie on her victory in the Town House when the Clerk shared the results of the election, and I hope you’ll do the same here. Debbie will serve the Planning Board well, as well as Southborough residents. As a town, we all win.

– Alan Belniak, 2022 Candidate for Southborough Planning Board

*The Town’s “unofficial” status for results just reflects that they have not yet been audited by the state.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 resident May 11, 2022 at 11:18 AM

It would have been nice to see some fresh blood on the Regional School Committee. Joan Frank has served for quite some time and I think we desperately need fresh blood on all the school committees.

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2 beth May 11, 2022 at 11:37 AM

Then you should be happy to see that one of the uncontested winners was Southborough’s new representative, Matthew Spencer. (Dan Kolenda chose not to run for re-election.)

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3 a bit hasty, aren't we? May 11, 2022 at 12:41 PM

Lest we get too far ahead of ourselves congratulating the arrival of more people who identify themselves as women on town boards and committees, I would direct the readers to review comments made in posts to the following mysouthborough article:

https://www.mysouthborough.com/2022/05/10/annual-town-meeting-voters-object-to-town-starting-st-marks-street-project-without-easement-approval/

Of particular note are the observations made of the “select” board members and the infamous head of the Southborough DPW.

One would sincerely hope the newly minted officials will work to help clean up some of this mess.

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4 Julie Connelly May 11, 2022 at 1:39 PM

This comment is blatantly misogynistic. Beth, I don’t understand why you would allow this to be posted. This anonymous misogynist could have offered a fair criticism of elected officials without mocking the changing of the name of the Select Board or blaming women in general for their concerns.

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5 beth May 11, 2022 at 4:35 PM

I could be wrong, but I didn’t take the comment as meaning women make things worse. I took it that the commenter feels some of the blame for issues around St. Mark’s Street is shared by female officials. Thus, having more doesn’t necessarily translate to better government. (Although, I never claimed it does. I do believe that representation matters and seeing more women in important positions is in my view worth celebrating.)

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6 Cindy May 11, 2022 at 4:53 PM

What is a woman? In all seriousness, I agree with Beth. No mysogony should be inferred from that post.

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7 Julie Connelly May 11, 2022 at 6:18 PM

I hope my interpretation is wrong, but the combination of saying that we shouldn’t celebrate more women getting involved and what appeared to be a mockery of the change from the title of BOS to Select Board made me feel otherwise. I understand things can be misconstrued here and I hope that wasn’t the poster’s intent.

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8 Francis May 12, 2022 at 10:13 AM

Julie, Beth has it right here. You are misinterpreting the post. The point is this: Yes, there are a few more good women on boards. AND there are a few, including the DPW head, that are responsible for the terrible controversy and mismanagement of taxpayer monies.

The hope is that newly elected officials and others responsible will be held accountable. Nothing wrong with that, and everything right about that. You might want to get your finger off the hair trigger. Some of your observations and comments just don’t make sense. Sorry to disagree, but there you have it.

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