By Jennifer Solis
---- — WEST NEWBURY — Voters will head to the polls six days earlier than they typically do this spring. In the interest of improving voter turnout, selectmen agreed with a recommendation by Town Clerk Michael McCarron to hold the annual town election on Tuesday, April 30, the same day as a special state primary to fill the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by John Kerry. Kerry resigned to become secretary of state in the Obama administration.
West Newbury’s town election is usually on the first Monday in May. But McCarron proposed the change in date after learning that the state Legislature had adopted a bill to allow municipalities to override their town bylaws when a town election is scheduled to be held within 30 days of either the primary or the state election.
With Annual Town Meeting scheduled for Monday, April 29, the change will mean a busy couple days for McCarron and double duty for his poll workers, who will need to hand out and process two separate ballots — one for the town election and one for the state primary.
Combining the elections will save the town a little money but more importantly might get people who otherwise wouldn’t do so to vote in both elections — and higher voter turnout is “always a good thing,” said McCarron.
McCarron said the change will also alter other deadlines in this election cycle, such as by what date nomination papers may be obtained and when must they be returned to McCarron’s office.
Thirteen municipal seats will be filled on the annual ballot this year. Michael Vetrano, 465 Main St., is the latest resident to hop into the election fray. Vetrano pulled papers recently to run for a three-year seat on the Board of Selectmen. Incumbent Dick Cushing has decided not to seek another term. Currently, Vetrano is the only person seeking the open seat.
Also circulating nomination papers are Kim Cole, Board of Health; Chris Wile, Pentucket School Committee; and Stephen Alvino, Glenn Coffin and Brian Richard for three seats as constables.
Other candidates whose three-year terms expire this spring are Alexandra Guralnick, Marcia Sellos-Moura and Lucile Waehling, Board of Library Trustees; Cheryl Hoenemeyer, Board of Assessors; Greg Pope, Park and Recreation commissioner; and Albert Knowles, Jr., water commissioner.
A five-year term on the Planning Board, currently held by Ann Bardeen, will also appear on the ballot in April.
Nomination papers are available in the Town Clerk’s office for any resident wishing to run for office on the annual ballot.
The last day to register to vote is April 9. Registrars will be taking registrations in the Town Clerk’s office from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. that final day. Voters may also register with the Town Clerk at other times, at the Registry of Motor Vehicles and certain other state agencies. The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Town Annex on Election Day.
A statewide Special Election is slated for Tuesday, June 25, to elect a new senator to replace Kerry, who represented Massachusetts in the Senate for 28 years. He was recently appointed by President Barack Obama to replace Hillary Clinton as U.S. Secretary of State.