Election Result Highlights (Updated-Again)

Voter participation was highest we've seen in years, but it didn't result in any changes.

Above: Candidates were seeking voter support last night. Here’s how they did. (photos by Beth Melo)

Early this morning, I reported who won the annual Town Election. Now, I’m digging into the results and adding some context.

Voter participation was the highest it has been for Town elections in several years.

Only 16.7% of registered Southborough voters cast ballots. But the 1,267 voters is about 16% more than last year, when there were four races on the ballot. The last time turnout was this high was 2018.

Challengers to incumbents may have helped juice turnout, but they weren’t successful in beating them. (Or maybe there was a different reason for the higher turnout. Scroll down for info on the mail-in voting.)*

In campaigning for the Town’s executive branch, Select Board Chair Andrew Dennington asked for a 2nd term to continue the progress he pitched the board has been making. In contrast, challenger Joe Palmer told voters that it was time for a sea change on the Select Board.

When I got to the polls at Trottier yesterday evening, Palmer was campaigning outside, alongside a supporter of Planning Board member Marnie Hoolahan who held a sign for both that called for re-establishing trust in Town government. They were flanked by Select Board Chair Andrew Dennington and three of his four fellow board members who held signs on his behalf.

Select Board members Marguerite Landry and Sam Stivers found a place out of the sun to demonstrate their support for Andrew Dennington yesterday (photo by Beth Melo) Joe Palmer with a supporter signaling support for both Palmer and Planning Board incumbent Marnie Hoolahan (photo by Beth Melo) Dennington with family campaigning (Vice Chair Kathy Cook was also with him) (photo by Beth Melo)

In the end, 53% of voters selected Dennington to keep his seat. Palmer got only 41% of the vote. (6% didn’t vote for either.)

Hoolahan handily kept her seat on the Planning Board with 61% of the vote. Although she was the only candidate on the ballot for the job, she did face a last minute challenge. Last Thursday night, Alan Belniak announced a write-in campaign.

Yesterday, Belniak and supporters were offering stickers to help in-person voters add him to their ballots. In the end, he only snagged 26% of the votes. (14% didn’t vote for either.)

It is worth highlighting that by the time Belniak announced, many voters had already cast their ballots by mail. (Scroll to bottom for updated details)

This year, the highest Southborough vote getter in all of the contests was Northborough’s Kathleen Howland who received 779 votes in the three way race for two seats on Northborough-Southborough Regional School Committee.

Since Northborough voters also supported her, she will continue in her role. (61% of Southborough voters cast votes for her and 79% of Northborough voters.)

500 votes were cast in our town for Christopher Lacasse to take the other Northborough seat on the Regional committee. In Northborough, he won 903 votes. Gigi Lisa Howell, who came in third, was only supported by 468 Southborough voters and 470 Northborough voters.

Overall, Southborough’s top vote getter this year was Bea Ginga in her uncontested race. The woman that has been publicly dubbed “the unofficial mayor of Southborough” will join the Housing Authority. Sue Delarda-Wood got the 2nd highest vote, allowing her to continue working on the Board of Commissioners of Trust Funds.

You can view the full unofficial results here.

*Updated (5/15/24 12:00 pm): I initially wrote that new the number of mail in ballots was significant but didn’t want to include grapevine figures. As promised, I’m updating with the official details. 

Over 47% of voters who cast ballots used the mail-in option to do it. It looks like the state’s effort to make mail-in voting easier might be the real reason voter participation was up in the Town’s election.

According to Town Clerk Jim Hegarty, 1,583 (21% of our registered voters) received mail-in ballots, because they requested them for all 2024 elections through the Vote by Mail postcard the state sent to each voter in December.

Of those, 604 (38%) returned a ballot for the Town election. He further broke down that 463 of the ballots were received by Thursday.

Updated (5/22/24 8:07 am): I had posted that Dennington won a 3rd term. It is actually his 2nd term. (I guess 2019 feels like it was 6 years ago!) Someone told me of the error last week, but I forgot to make the edit until now.

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Michael Weishan
11 days ago

Beth, if I sense some sort of surprise in your comment that “they were flanked by Select Board Chair Andrew Dennington and three of his four fellow board members who held signs on his behalf,” I think that this reaction was shared by 41 plus 6% of the electorate.
This is the first time in my 30 years of living in Southborough that I have seen BoS members tag-team to re-elect one of their own. I personally very much like and respect Marguerite, Sam and Kathy, but I want to say publicly to you three that what you did was unsavory, and set a terrible precedent. Why should anyone bother running if it seems like the current elected members are trying to predetermine the outcome, which is precisely what you tried to do and did? I suggest returning to a long established precedent: BoS members should be remotely heard and not seen on election day.
And to my friends on the BoS. 41 plus 6 against you is not exactly a governing mandate. In fact, it is no mandate at all, and forewarns raucous times ahead for you in the echo chamber you’ve now deliberately perpetuated.

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