Voters Distracted From Board of Health and Housing Authority Races
With higher-profile races and a critical referendum on the ballot, a large number of voters didn't bother with BOH and Housing Authority.
In what was a frantic election day, the contested races for Board of Health and the Housing Authority positions fell through the cracks in the eyes of many Tewksbury voters.
The lack of awareness provided a much higher percentage of ballots left without a vote in the races compared to the more publicized races such as the Selectmen’s race, which had only 256 voters abstaining, and the Town Clerk’s race, which only had 143 ballots without a vote for at least one candidate.
In particular, when it came to incumbent Marc DiFruscia’s 2365-1507 victory over challenger Paul O’Neill in the Housing Authority race, most voters were too caught up with the myriad of other things the ballot to give it much attention. Ultimately, 793 Tewksbury voters didn’t bother to fill in either candidate’s name, a figure much larger than any of the other contested races on the day.
“I haven’t even followed it at all, I’m sorry to say,” said local resident Barbara Hague, who headed into the public library to vote on Saturday afternoon.
Hague’s indifference on the Housing Authority race was echoed by many other voters such as Ernest Lorenz, who couldn’t remember who exactly he voted for upon leaving the polls.
“I voted for the incumbent, I guess,” said Lorenz.
For the few voters that were keeping a close eye on the race, the main issue appeared to be keeping affordable housing available rather than reforming the system.
“I don’t think it’s proper to cut services,” said Sandra Jones. “People that benefit from public housing are on a fixed income as it is.”
Although neither of the candidates had a significant presence outside the polls in comparison to some of the higher races and other items on the ballot Saturday, DiFruscia held an advantage in terms of visibility outside the polls.
O’Neill credited this to a differential in spending during the campaign, although DiFruscia also was able to garner volunteer support from people like fellow Zoning Board member Rob Dugan, who turned the front of his plow into a sign for DiFruscia as a symbol of his believe that the incumbent should keep his position.
“This is what he does. He’s been doing this his whole life, and it’s what he knows,” said Dugan, who lives down the street from DiFruscia. “He’s the right man for the job.”
In the Board of Health race, there was also a fair amount of indifference in Charles Roux’s 2373-1794 victory over Kathleen Brothers, with 504 voters deciding not to cast a vote for anyone. However, among those that did have an opinion, a general consensus emerged that a gulf in experience on certain issues such as sewerage affected their choice.
“It sounds like (Roux) knows what he’s doing, he’s in the sewage construction business, so I think he would be the best choice for that position because he’s in that business,” said Bob Jones. “I didn’t really hear much from (Brothers), she seemed to be silent in this race. I’m not sure she has the experience, especially with new things the town has to deal with like the sewerage system.”
None of the candidates could be reached for comment on Sunday morning for reactions on results of the two races.