NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 14, 2012

Hess wins selectman's seat

All four town union contracts pass by substantial margins

SEABROOK — Ed Hess Jr. is the winner of a close four-person selectman's race, and for the first time in a long time, voters approved contracts for the town's four unions.

Last night, numbers were still unofficial, but as of 9 p.m,, Hess had earned 428 of the roughly 1,400 votes cast, with Robie Beckman coming in a close second with 401 votes.

"I'm overwhelmed by the vote," Hess said after he was pronounced the winner. "I'd like to thank all the voters who supported me, all those who worked on my campaign and everyone who ran. I have a lot of work to do. All I can say is that I'm going to do the best I can for the town."

Beckman also thanked supporters and all the candidates for running good races, saying he could be back to run again for town office.

Taking third and fourth places in the race were Maria Brown with 331 votes and Paul Knowles with 172.

Winners of the race for two seats on the Seabrook School Board were incumbents Bruce Casassa and Kathleen Cronin.

As for the passage of the four, three-year union contracts for the Seabrook employees, police, firefighters and supervisory employees associations, their members were not the only ones pleased to get the raises included. According to Selectman Aboul Khan, the four contracts were considered by selectmen as the most important items on the warrant. Their passage changes the town's employee health package and should cut the town's $3.2 million insurance premium price tag in coming years.

The change is expected to lower insurance premiums so much that even accounting for the raises, taxpayers should save at least three-quarters of a million dollars over the life of the contracts.

According to two of the union presidents, Asa Knowles IV of the SEA and Deputy Police Chief Lee Bitomske of the SSEA, once members learned about the new insurance plan, they wholeheartedly supported it.

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