Empty seats and uncontested races mark Tuesday’s local elections in Southampton

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SOUTHAMPTON – Although there are no contested races in Southampton’s annual municipal election on Tuesday, there are several empty seats on several committees.

Among the vacancies are three vacancies for the Finance Committee: a one-year term, a two-year term and a three-year term. Donna Whiteley, whose term expires this year, has elected not to seek re-election. That leaves the committee with two members: Vicki Moro, whose term expires in 2024, and Barbara Symborski, whose term expires next year.

“It is a concern. No one showed up for caucus,” said Chris Fowles, chairman of the Select Board. “We have put out a call and tried to recruit people with a background in finance, but we are unable to find people who are willing or have the time to commit to the committee.

Fowles said there was always a possibility that people could step in as pundits in the election, which will be held on Tuesday May 17 from noon to 8 p.m.

The Personnel Policy and Procedures Board also has three vacancies: a one-year term, a two-year term and a three-year term.

The council maintains the city’s centralized personnel records system, monitors the effectiveness of rules, regulations, procedures and practices. It also reviews the City’s classification and compensation plans, evaluates and classifies positions, and reviews reclassification requests.

Member Kristie Ann Slattery resigned from the board in September, and members Robin Richard and Derek Geser resigned in October, according to City Clerk Luci Dalton.

Joann Alderman and Donna Whiteley were appointed to that board in November, according to Fowles. However, their term expires on election day, leaving John Lumbra, Board Liaison, as the sole board member.

The candidates for re-election without opposition are: Robert Floyd for City Moderator; Chris Fowles for Select Board; Faith Harrison for Chaplain; April T. West for the Board of Reviewers; Leah Carrasquillo for the Board of Health; William A Wells for the Cemetery Commission; Paul Frugal for the Planning Council; Dylan Mawdsley for the William E. Norris School School Committee; Ronald D. Laurin for tree guard; and Joseph F. Slattery for the Water Commission.

Newcomers Carol Barcomb and Catherine Thibodeau are running for the two school board seats at Hampshire Regional High School.

Janet L. Cain and Joy A. Piper are running unopposed for the two vacant Housing Authority seats.

There are six library trustee seats on the ballot, including Pamela Bernier, Mark Domina, Jessica Hufnagle and Jessica McConnell who are running for re-election, and newcomers Tracy Collins and Carolyn McKeown.

Newcomer Patrick Martin is running for one of two vacant seats on the Park Commission.

There is also a question on the ballot asking voters if they support a waiver of the Proposition 2½ debt exclusion to pay for the purchase of a new wheel loader for the highway department. If the question is approved, it will be presented to voters at the annual municipal meeting with a formal dollar amount, according to Dalton.

This election will also be the first time that voters will vote as a two-district city. Initially, Dalton was under the impression from the state’s Division of Elections that the city’s roughly 4,400 registered voters would have to vote at two different locations with the new designation, but that was changed. All voters will vote at the Senior Center, 210 College Highway.

However, as a city with two constituencies, Southampton must always have two voting machines. Poll workers have been trained on the Dominion Voting Systems ImageCast Precinct 2 tabulators since they were first delivered to the city in February.

The State Electoral Division divided the city into two electoral districts due to Southampton’s increasing population. According to the 2020 federal census, the city’s population increased from 5,792 to 6,224 between 2010 and 2020. The 7.5% increase in the city’s population was the largest percentage increase in the county of Hampshire.

When the population reaches 6,200, state law requires a city to add a second ward.

Since that count was taken, Dalton says the population has declined. According to her, the city’s population is now 5,971. Despite this drop in population, she says the city cannot go back to being a single-precinct city.

Poll workers will be on hand to direct voters to where each precinct should congregate, Assistant Clerk Sabina McCarthy said. She noted that there will be extensive signage to help avoid confusion.

A representative from voting machine supplier LHS Associates of Salem, New Hampshire, will also be present during the election to ensure the new tabulators are working efficiently, Dalton said.

“We are all ready,” she said.

Emily Thurlow can be contacted at [email protected]

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