2009-11-05 / Front Page

Election brings major change to Town Council

By Phil Zahodiakin

The Nov. 3 election brought about a major change in Jamestown government: Four new Town Council members who will serve three years rather than the usual two. One of the incumbent candidates, Democrat Michael White, drew the most votes among the seven hopefuls; the other incumbent seeking re-election, Democrat Bob Sutton, was defeated in a sixth-place finish.

“I wish everyone the best of luck,” Sutton said. “It’s a tough job.”

The other winners in the council race were Democrat Michael Schnack, Democrat William Murphy, Democrat Robert Bowen and Independent Ellen Winsor. The other losing candidate was Independent Michael Smith.

Among the School Committee candidates, Democrat Catherine Kaiser, the incumbent School Committee chair, led a pack of four candidates running for three seats. Incumbent Democrat Julia Held was second and newcomer Democrat Dana Long was third.

Independent Sav Rebecchi, coming in fourth, was defeated.

A total of 1,595 of Jamestown’s 4,642 registered voters turned out to vote.

Ballot Question 1, which proposed to amend the Town Charter with one-year increases in the council and school committee terms of office, passed by an 885 to 594 margin. The onetime extension will enable Jamestown to align its elections with state and national contests, eliminating off-year elections such as this one.

The newly elected council members will select – or announce – their president once they are sworn in and hold their first meeting, which will be held Nov. 16. Michael White noted that he has been the council vice president for the last two years, and added, “I would like to be president, and, as president, I would seek to serve as effectively as Julio. My style is very close to his, and I would hope that, if elected president, it would be because I’m the best man for the Bowen said he is “excited” by job – not because I was the top vote-getter.”

White also said he was “happy and surprised” to have garnered the most votes, adding, “I would like to thank the citizens of Jamestown. It is obviously a place where I love to live, and I look forward to serving our citizens for another three years.”

Michael Schnack was also happy with his results, expressing gratitude to his supporters, and adding that he was “looking forward to a wonderful threeyear term.”

Schnack also expressed concern about an anonymous flyer that was recently placed in Jamestown mailboxes, mainly on the north end of the island. Besides accusing Sutton and Smith of planning “tax hikes” to pay for water and sewer treatment plant expenses, the flyer urged residents to vote only for the five other candidates. Schnack said he might refer the letter to the state attorney general for investigation. his election.

“This was my first time running for election on my own, although I’ve worked for other campaigns at the national level. I’d like to thank all the citizens who voted for me, and I’d like to assure them that my experience in waterfront issues, and my role in our development of a wind turbine proposal, positions me to be a good steward for Jamestown over the next three years,” he said.

Murphy, like Schnack, served on a previous Town Council.

“I’m happy to be elected and back on the council,” he said. “I think we have a good group of people, and I think it will be more stable because we’ll have an additional year for our term. I had written a list of goals in pencil, and now I will write them out in ink.”

Winsor said, “I’m grateful and I’m honored by my election. I’m just now starting to feel the weight of the responsibilities I will have – particularly in view of the economic situation and the state financial cutbacks – but I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues on the council and I wish to thank the citizens of Jamestown for their support.”

As School Committee chair, Catherine Kaiser is also keenly aware of financial challenges. “I am truly gratified by the level of voter support and hope to see it sustained throughout the difficult times ahead,” she said. “We will need all the support we can get going forward as we advocate for education on the state level during this time of severe economic constraints.”

The Press was unable to reach Dana Long, but Held said, “I’m very pleased that I’ll be able to serve another term and I thank everyone who came out and voted. I’m also grateful for having been provided with the opportunity to participate in the candidates’ forums. They were a great way for the candidates to express their views for the voters.”

How Jamestown Voted
Straight ticket
Democrat 71
Town Moderator
James A. Donnelly – D 1,069
School Committee
Catherine L. Kaiser – D 1,150
Julie Held – D 1,033
Dana Long – D 979
Sav Rebecchi – I 707
Town Council
Michael G. White – D 1,078
Michael F. Schnack – D 1,042
William H. Murphy – D 1,010
Robert Bowen – D 1,003
Ellen Winsor – I 945
Robert W. Sutton Jr. – D 812
Michael F. Smith – I 656

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