Opinion: Why didn't you vote?
UPDATED, April 19: In an election marked by low turnout, Arlington voters on Saturday, April 7, returned to office incumbent Selectman Joseph A. Curro Jr. and chose John V. Hurd, whose last name is well-known in town, over A. Michael Ruderman, better known to Town Meeting.
The preliminary, unofficial results showed Curro, a selectman since 2012, received 3,366 votes. Hurd, an attorney whose father, Jack, was a selectman, got 3,031 votes. Ruderman, a 17-year Town Meeting member who works for the state Department of Transportation, received 1,699 votes.
In the ballot question, the other contested issue, voters supported changing from an elected to an appointed treasurer. Preliminary, unofficial returns were 2,500 for yes and 1,619 for no.
Turnout was 15.8 percent. From 2000 through 2018, the average turnout in town elections was 21.6 percent (see chart below).
Morgan tops ticket
For School Committee, the two candidates were unopposed. Incumbent Jeff Thielman, in office since 2003, won reelection, with 3,194 votes, but newcomer Jane Morgan topped him, with 3,528 votes. That number also topped all candidates for key seats.
That seat opened up after nine-year veteran Cindy Starks decided not to seek reelection.
Carman praises LaCourt
On Facebook April 8, town Treasurer Dean Carman provided some needed history behind the ballot question:
"Congratulation to my friend and Arlington political mentor Annie LaCourt on (finally) achieving meaningful financial reform in Arlington last night.
"Thirteen years ago, Annie campaigned [for selectman] on a platform that included reforming Arlington's financial management through the creation of a consolidated professional finance department and improved communication between political bodies. It took a while (13 years), but a professional, appointed treasurer is now our future, and a consolidated finance department should be achieved this Town Meeting under articles 18 and 19.
"While the local press likes to focus on 'Dean Carman's financial reform,' all I did was run on, and implement, Annie's 2005 to 2011 work. She did all the hard work, fought all the battles, and deserves a lot of credit for this achievement."
Hurd looks ahead
Hurd commented Monday, April 9: "I was very pleased with the election result. From the outset, we tried to run a very positive campaign, discussing the tremendous progress Arlington has made over the past decade and then looking to build on that progress in the future. I think this message resonated with voters.
"I was humbled to have received the support of so many past and present elected officials and town residents. Much of my success can be attributed to my amazing campaign staff, including my Chair Eileen Mathews and my father, Jack, who both dedicated a significant amount of their free time to the campaign over the past few months.
"Going forward, I am excited to meet with, listen to and learn from all of the current board members, the town manager and other elected officials to discuss all of the important issues facing the town. One issue that I have put out front during the campaign is the high school rebuild project. I am excited to continue to work with town officials, students and residents to build an amazing new complex for our students."
Ruderman issues statement
In response to a request for a statement, Ruderman wrote April 8:
"Congratulations to our newly-elected, and reelected, Selectmen John V. Hurd and Joe Curro. I wish you and your colleagues every success in meeting the challenges in Arlington's future. In that, you have my confidence, and my support.
"To my campaign crew -- the strategizers, the donors, the old hands that taught me how to run my first town-wide race, the new hands that held my signs and distributed my cards -- I quite literally could not have done it without you. Your enthusiasm for a new voice was the joy that sustained me through months of campaigning.
"As it is an honor to serve, it is likewise a privilege to run for office. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to bring my message of 'Arlington for Everyone' directly to you, the voters. Most of you who voted for me had never seen my name on a ballot before, but you remembered the conversations we had about good government, responsible budgeting, providing the things we need for residents of every age; and you trusted me to make it happen. For that trust, I thank you sincerely.
"Finally, my appreciation goes to all of you who stepped up to run for Town Meeting seats, and to the winners, congratulations. We have much to do, from the opening of the Annual Meeting in a few weeks, to standing up for the new Arlington High School building plan to come, and beyond. I look forward to joining with you in many campaigns to come."
The scene at the Knights of Columbus
No rock, no jazz, just soothing tunes from two Arlington High students, members of Scottish Fish, Giulia Haible, on cello, and Ava Montesi, on fiddle, kept background music moving to Irish and Cape Breton themes at the Knights of Columbus.
As returns rolled in after 8 p.m. April 7, Curro's team entered them into a spreadsheet projected on a large screen at the rear of the hall.
Precinct 13 and 15 came in first, followed by 12, 20 and 14. By 8:20, Curro and Hurd were firmly ahead.
"How ya feelin', Brian?" Paul Schlichtman asked Brian Rehrig, among the data team. The latter shook his head in a way that indicated yes rather than no.
By 8:40, the results about the candidates and the ballot question were clear.
At 9, campaign director Sharon Grossman said, "It turned out exactly the way we hoped."
Curro: "This is the starting gun for a longer campaign."
In his usual way of casting light on serious subjects, Curro said with a wide smile: "This is so much fun." He paused and added, "This is the starting gun for a longer campaign."
These efforts, he said, "take a lot out of families," but they are worth it "for all we get done."
He proceeded to celebrate members of his team. They included Elaine Shea; Grossman, leading Curro's fifth campaign; and his wife,
Lisa Moncevicz. All got bouquets, as did his daughters, who he praised for their letters to the editor (they are included here >>).
Also at the Knights of Columbus event were newly elected School Committee members. Morgan said she was "really nervous" in beginning her run but that she was "not concerned about the outcome." She, too, referred to the "big campaigns coming next year." With characteristic humor, she added, "It will not be long until we'll be together again."
Thielman, who won reelection without running an active campaign, noted the presence of Nick Carter, who is running for Governor's Council as well as a number of preset and former School Committee members in the hall. He also looked ahead to next year, when two ballot questions will ask voters to raise taxes.
Potential candidates began taking out papers in December, but no possible campaign issues emerged until Candidates' Night, 10 days before the election. In that annual series of answers to moderator questions, Ruderman offered two views that differed from the others -- he supported keeping an elected treasurer, and he cited market forces -- not a bylaw -- to explain a sharp drop in vacant storefronts.
The following week, some discussion about the treasurer issue erupted on the Arlington email list as well as on Arlington Facebook groups that permit political discussion. A variety of arguments ensued for each side, and some elected officials -- Selectman Dan Dunn and Paul Schlichtman -- weighed in favoring appointment.
In addition, the issue of Hurd's attendance when he was on Town Meeting arose on a closed Arlington Politics Facebook group and migrated to other lists.
Last, still others on Facebook groups discussed Ruderman's use of a photo on campaign literature showing him with Rep. Sean Garballey. Ruderman said he had received Garballey's permission for it. A Hurd campaign flier showed the selectman candidate with the representative and said Hurd had received his endorsement.
Ruderman participated in some Facebook discussions; Curro and Hurd did not.
All seemed to add up to 11th-hour politicking from the public -- not the candidates -- which did not have sufficient time to blossom into legitimate issues discussed by all sides.
Before the town election, town and school hopefuls offered their views at Candidates' Night on March 28. Read what they said here >>
NOTE: Kevin Feeley, the longtime member of the Board of Assessors, who unopposed this spring, has yet to respond to questions posed by YourArlington in January. His responses will be published if he decides to provide them.
April 2, 2018: Summary of Candidates' Night
This news announcement was published Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, and updated April 11, to add a link. It was updated again April 19, to correct numbers in the chart.
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