Two new trustees for Bellows Falls, recount possible

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BELLOWS FALLS — Voters elected two of the three competing candidates on the ballot for the Village Board of Trustees on Tuesday.

Colin James, Deborah Wright and James "Jiggs" McAuliffe ran for the two open trustee seats. The race was close with Wright getting 113 votes, McAuliffe getting 102 votes, and James getting 99 votes.

"I'm a little disappointed, not so much in losing," James said, though he added that he loved serving the community. "One hundred fifty-eight people came out to vote, out of 3,000 registered voters." James, who previously served on the Trustee Board for six years and three terms, said it was the lowest turnout he'd ever seen.

He thought the low voter turnout was a result of frustration within the community and a lack of advertising on the board's part. He also noted that it may have been difficult for a lot of residents to make it to the polling place. He said that he, personally, will always have another opportunity to serve; there are elections every year. Because the race was so close James is entitled to ask for a recount. He went to the town hall on Wednesday to ask for one.

McAuliffe was pleased to have won but also disappointed in voter turnout. He cited the lack of publicity as a possible reason. He also thought voters might be feeling apathetic and noted that there weren't any exciting ballot measures this election.

McAuliffe is eager to look for ways to lighten the load for Bellows Falls taxpayers, while still attending to residents' needs.

"We're a poor community," he said. "We can't afford those budget increases and the burden it brings to our citizens."

McAuliffe feels his experience working on the school board will prove valuable, and that he could be an asset to the village.

"I felt that the Trustee Board over the past year has lacked leadership," he said. "I feel that I may be able to bring leadership and focus to our objectives."

McAuliffe plans to collaborate more with the Rockingham Select Board. With two new board members, McAuliffe said, it's likely the board could be ripe for change.

Wright, who was previously a trustee, was delighted to be allowed to serve again. Her husband was from North Walpole and since she's moved to Bellows Falls she's fallen in love. Wright tries to be an active community member. She goes to school board meetings, attends Select Board and trustee meetings, and was recently named planning commissioner.

"I care about how we are shaping our community," she said, "and making sure our residents can afford to stay here."

Other elected officers were Michael Harty with165 votes for moderator, Kerry Bennett with 157 vote for clerk, Myles Mickle with 147 votes for president, and Donna Harty with 171 votes for treasurer.

Harmony Birch can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext.153. Or you can follow her @birchharmony.     

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