Corrected and updated February 21, 2017
In a surprising shift from the frequently uncontested elections of recent years, nominations at Saturday’s Town Caucus produced four races. Incumbents running for reelection this spring on both the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee will face challengers, while two candidates will vie for open position on the Cemetery Commission, and two others for an open seat on the Warner Free Lecture Trustees. One of those contests, however, became somewhat less competitive on Tuesday when three-term Selectman Ron Ricci announced that he would not run again.
CLICK TABLE TO ENLARGE
Early in the caucus’s rapid-fire nominating process, it became clear that some positions would be contested. Kara Minar of Still River Road and Edward Moussouris of Park Lane were named to challenge incumbents Ricci and current Chairman Ken Swanton for the two seats up for election on the Board of Selectmen. Ricci’s unexpected withdrawal, however, reduces the number of contestants for those positions.
In an email to his fellow selectmen, town officials, and the Press, Ricci said he had already been doubtful about running for a fourth term and decided he “would step aside if someone else qualified stepped up to the plate.” Ricci said he was encouraged to see “new faces” taking part in town government, and he described the nine years he had spent as a selectman as both challenging and fun (see letter).
Minar is currently chairwoman of the Planning Board, so if she were to win the selectman’s seat, the Board of Selectmen would then need to appoint someone to fill the resulting vacancy on the Planning Board until next election. Moussouris, who moved to Harvard about three years ago, said he has long been interested in politics and added, “I love this town.”
In a second contested race, three candidates are running for two positions on the School Committee: SusanMary Redinger, the current chairwoman; John Ruark of Orchard Hill; and John Mark Walker of Granite View Lane.
For the Cemetery Commission, both Hank Fitek of Stow Road and John Lee of Ayer Road were nominated at the caucus to succeed Jack Spero, who is stepping down.
While no one stepped forward at the caucus for the open seat on the Warner Free Lectures Trustees, two candidates did appear at the Town Clerk’s office on Tuesday afternoon to submit signed papers for the position: Paul Green of Old Littleton Road and Shannon Molloy of Stow Road.
No candidates threw their hats into the ring, either at the caucus or by nominating petition, for a one-year term on the Parks and Recreation Commission. In addition, the selectmen will appoint someone to the Community Preservation Committee to fill out the term of a member who resigned too late to be included on the caucus list.
Debbie Ricci (far left) presides over Town Caucus, Saturday, Feb. 11, held in the upper Town Hall. (Photo by Lisa Aciukewicz)
A total of 56 hardy residents left their warm homes and postprandial libations Saturday evening for the first Town Caucus in the newly refurbished Town Hall meeting room. The trip to and from the meeting, through snow and freezing slush, probably took longer than the caucus itself, which lasted only about 20 minutes.
Janet Vellante, who recently retired as town clerk, received an enthusiastic round of applause for returning to officiate in place of current Town Clerk Amy MacDougall, who is currently on leave. Debbie Ricci was elected presiding officer, with Mary Jarvis as recording secretary.
The Town Election will be held Tuesday, April 4, three days after this year’s Annual Town Meeting.
Editor's note: This article has been corrected and updated. In the table that accompanied the original article, we misrepresented the name of this year's sole candidate for tree warden. The correct spelling of his name is JC (not J.C.) Ferguson.