ROWLEY — Mark Emery, who faced Tim Toomey in the recall election for a seat on the town’s water board, won by a landslide at the polls yesterday. More than 700 residents, or 16 percent of all registered voters, came out to cast their votes, a turnout as strong as is seen in a regular election.
With a final count of 675 to 26, Emery is now the newest commissioner on the town’s water board and was sworn in right after the election. He will serve the rest of the unexpired term, which is until May 2017. He will attend his first meeting tomorrow.
“This is a historic election for the town,” said water board chairman John Manning. “It’s unfortunate that it had to go this far, but hopefully the community can come together and move forward in a positive manner.”
Voters had to answer two questions at this special election: the first indicating their support for or against the actual recall election, the second for either Toomey or Emery. On the first question, the results were 661 for the election and 48 against. The results of the second question moved Toomey out of his position as a water commissioner, which he has held for several years, and accomplished the goal of the recall election.
Emery, 54, is a former Water Department employee, having served from 1993 to 1998. Since that time he has been a firefighter in town, having served as captain for the last four years. He also served on the Finance Committee for four years, ending in 1993.
Of winning the election, Emery said, “Hopefully we can get back to work and calm things down a bit and move business forward.”
Emery said, with his knowledge of the Water Department, he was planning on running in May, so when the opportunity to run sooner came to be, it fit with his plans.
The recall election was the result of a concerned group of residents who cited several issues against Toomey in his management of the water board. This included his decisions to use executive sessions rather than public meetings to approve new policies, hire outside counsel, and place the water superintendent on leave. The group secured more than 30 percent of registered voters’ signatures on a petition to pave the way for the recall election, which was held because Toomey declined to resign when presented with the petition.
Toomey has since initiated two court cases, the first against the town (the Board of Registrars) in local courts trying to stop the recall election due to an error in the process of the collection of signatures. The second was an appeal of the denial of that case filed last week with the Massachusetts Appellate Court, again with the goal of stopping the recall election. This second case was denied as well on Friday by Judge Grainger at the Appellate Court level.
Toomey may be out of his water board seat for now, but he had promised to continue his fight until he felt justice was served. He also is free to run again for the water board, where a seat will be open in the May town election. Toomey could not be reached for comment on these issues.