Update May 3, 10:20 a.m.: This piece has been updated to include statements from Board of Health newcomer Maeghan Hughes, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and state Republican Committeewoman Kathy Lynch.
Update May 4, 11:24 a.m.: Vote totals have been updated to reflect the official results. No outcomes have changed.
WESTFORD — Voters have taken to the polls to settle a number of contested races and ballot questions — including a debt exclusion for 51 Main St. and whether the Town of Westford will recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
11.8% or 2,159 of 18,287 total registered voters cast a ballot during the May 2 election.
Three candidates competed for two open School Committee seats.
School Committee incumbent Valery Young will serve a second term on the committee alongside newcomer Bill McDonald, who will replace two-term Gloria Miller, who did not seek reelection.
“I am thankful to all for all of the Westford voters who came out today in support of me, the candidates across the ballot, the question and most importantly, our schools,” McDonald told WestfordCAT. “I am extremely honored and proud to be on the School Committee and serving the town of Westford.”
Below are the results for the two contested seats on the School Committee.
Valery Young: 1,490
Bill McDonald: 1,544
Meghan O’Connell: 576
Board of Health:
Three candidates competed for two open Board of Health seats.
Board of Health incumbent Michele Pitoniak-Crawford, who has served on the Board of Health since 2010 will return to the board for an additional term. Newcomer Maeghan Hughes won the second contested seat, replacing Zac Cataldo, who did not seek reelection.
Hughes thanked residents for “trusting her with their vote.”
“I am excited for this wonderful opportunity to serve my community over the next three years,” she said. “I look forward to working alongside the other board members and the health department as we maintain and promote the health of the individuals and the town of Westford.”
Below are the results for the two contested seats on the Board of Health:
Michele Pitoniak-Crawford: 1,323
Maeghan Hughes: 1,132
Alesia Raczelowski: 898
Question 1, debt exclusion for 51 Main St.
Voters rejected creating a Proposition 2 and 1/2 debt exclusion for funding for a proposed town center building at 51 Main St.
The proposal, which was projected to cost approximately $12.4 million, was dismissed at an Oct. 17, 2022 Special Town Meeting on procedural grounds and rejected by voters during a March 25 Annual Town Meeting.
Voters rejected creating debt exclusion for the project on both the Nov. 8, 2022 Special Town Election ballot and May 2 Town Election ballot. The question, which failed by approximately 500 votes during the Nov. 8 election, failed by roughly 600 votes on May 2.
Since about 2017, the town has allocated approximately $900,000 toward a needs study, design and testing of the site, as well as additional demolition and construction of a communications tower among other items to accommodate the proposed building.
According to Town Manager Kristen Las, the town will have to “go back to the drawing board.”
“Currently there is not a plan,” she said. “I have spoken with members of the Select Board and Permanent Town Building Committee about some potential possibilities.”
Below are the results for Question 1.
Question 2, debt exclusion for the Blanchard Roof Replacement Project
Voters authorized a Proposition 2 and 1/2 debt exclusion to fund the Blanchard Middle School Roof Replacement Project.
Funding for the project was approved at a March 25 Annual Town Meeting. The project is slated to cost $6.5 million, but up to 48.05% of that funding will be offset by a grant from the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
“The grant will total about $2.5 million it’s a huge saving to approve this today,” Director of Facilities Jeff Goodwin told WestfordCAT.
Blanchard Middle School’s roof has historically been a “troubled roof,” according to Goodwin.
“We’ve had several insurance claims on the building. Our deductible has gone up in price,” he said.
The project is slated to begin in the summer of 2024 and conclude ahead of the school year.
“Our goal is to try and wrap up over the course of the summer [in 2024],” he said.
Below are the results for Question 2.
Question 3, Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Voters approved a resolution to allow the Select Board to declare the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day and supersede all local references to Columbus Day.
The question was originally proposed as a Citizen’s Petition during an Oct. 18, 2020 Special Town Meeting. Voters rejected the proposal but referred the question to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.
The Select Board did not take a position on the question during an April 25 meeting. The School Committee endorsed the measure in a 4-1 vote during a March 13 meeting.
WestfordCAT reached out to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee Vice Chair Joe Diamond, who noted the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee is “grateful” for the vote.
“With this vote Westford has joined 20 other cities and towns across the state in honoring the original inhabitants of this land – in Westford the Nipmuc People,” he said. “We look forward to celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day together.”
WestfordCAT reached out to First Middlesex Republican State Committee member Kathy Lynch and Anthony DiLeo, an organizer for Save Columbus Day in Westford. Lynch believes the question “pits half of the town at odds with the other half.”
“It’s unfortunate that Westford’s so-called “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee” put forth such a divisive ballot question that excludes half the members of our community that honor Christopher Columbus and his remarkable achievements,” Lynch told WestfordCAT.
She continued, “fortunately, the federal holiday of Columbus Day still remains and this Westford question is non-binding. Therefore, Westford residents can celebrate Columbus Day any way they wish.”
DiLeo did not immediately respond for comment.
Below are the results for Question 3.
Tom Clay: 1,520
Chris Barrett: 1,567
Angela Harkness 1,724
Lynn Clermont: 1,543
Caroline Roache: 1,524
Planning Board (5-year term)
Darrin Wizst: 1,550
Planning Board (3-year term)
Joan Croteau: 1,617
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