Ouellette Ready to Make Change
ADAMS — On Monday night, it was the last-minute contender who walked away the victor.
Michael Ouellette, the last candidate to pass in his nomination papers in March, secured a spot on the five-member Board of Selectmen with 448 votes.
The town's only race, the three-way bid for the seat Myra Wilk vacated last year saw Ouellette beat out competitors Michael Taber and Jason Hnatonko.
"It's been a long day. I saw a lot of people, shook a lot of hands, waved at a lot of cars but I'm feeling pretty good," said Ouellette after the final numbers were announced.
All three of the candidates set up camp outside Adams Memorial Middle School — where the polls were located — and spent the day holding signs and waving at passersby.
"I'm disappointed, of course, that I didn't win but I wanted to congratulate Michael Ouellette for a great campaign and a great win," said Hnatonko. "The town is lucky to have him."
Taber, who lost by only 87 votes, said he was proud of the time and effort he'd put into getting the word out about his candidacy.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed but I think we ran a really great campaign and we worked really hard. We can walk with our heads held high," he said. "I wish Mr. Ouellette the best of luck and I hope he does make change for the town of Adams."
Ouellette ran on a platform that called for major changes from within the town government and encouraged a climate of communication and cooperation.
"I recognize that we have problems in town and I want to address those. I want to change the procedures. We've got a lot of problems we need to fix and before I help fix them, I need to know what they are."
A lifelong town resident, the retired General Electric engineer and land developer cited experience as one of the reasons for his win and said he's ready to "go to the meeting and get my feet wet."
At a mere 17.5 percent, the turnout at the polls was lackluster. According to Town Clerk Paul Hutchinson, only 1,037 of the town's 5,898 registered turned out to vote.
"That's lousy," Hutchinson said.
Wanda Kieltyka and her daughter and town meeting member Susan Frost said it was "too bad" that more people passed up the opportunity to make their voices heard.
"I think it's important to vote. This is a democracy; it's what it's about," said Frost, who also said economic development was the biggest issue for her when choosing a candidate.
For Wayne Brown, voting is a chance to play a vital role in town politics.
"If you don't vote, you can't complain," he said.
Joan Smigel, a Finance Committee member, wouldn't say how she cast her vote but she called for a selectman who is "open-minded."
"It's a really tough situation in Adams," Smigel said. "We need someone who'll do something on the board with the way things are going and it's sad that no one came out to vote today. I've always done it and sometime, it could just be one vote. I guess they think it's just not that important."
The final count had Jason Hnatonko with 214 votes, Michael Taber with 361 votes and Michael Ouellette with 448 votes. The reorganizational meeting of the board will be on Wednesday night.
Several open positions were filled by write-in campaigns, a phenomenon Hutchinson said was particulary impressive this year.
"Usually they only win by about three votes but these are really high numbers," he said.
Richard Frost, who ran a write-in campaign, garnered 50 votes for the open Board of Health member postion. Joseph Greenbush took the Library Trustee position with 27 votes and David Charon will join Wilfred Bourdon III as a park commissioner.
Steven Blanchard took the Redevelopment Authority member spot with 9 votes and John Swistak III will become the cemetery commissioner with 14 write-in votes.
Story updated on May 6 at 11:40 a.m.