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1 newcomer advances, 1 voted out in Greenfield at-large race

  • Residents of Greenfield check into vote at the Greenfield High School on Tueaday. September 12, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Electioneering at the Greenfield High School on Tueaday. September 12, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Electioneering at the Greenfield High School on Tueaday. September 12, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • At-large incumbent Penny Ricketts tallies up preliminary election results for the at-large Town Council race Tuesday night, Sept. 12, 2017. Ricketts was the top vote getter with 33 percent of the votes with 724. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • At-large incumbent Penny Ricketts tallies up preliminary election results for the at-large Town Council race Tuesday night, Sept. 12, 2017. Ricketts was the top vote getter with 33 percent of the votes with 724. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



Recorder Staff
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

GREENFIELD — The results are in — incumbent Penny Ricketts, Precinct 8 Councilor Ashli Stempel, Precinct 6 Councilor Maria Burge and Andrew Killeen will advance to the town’s general election, all vying for two at-large Town Council seats.

At-large candidate Joseph Gochinski was eliminated from the ballot during Tuesday’s preliminary election.

Greenfield saw a 10 percent voter turnout Tuesday, which Town Clerk Deborah Tuttle said is typical for a town election. She said 1,158 out of 11,666 registered voters cast ballots — the majority after work hours. Tuttle also noted that this is the first preliminary since Greenfield converted to the city election schedule.

Ricketts came in first with 724 votes, followed by Stempel with 681 votes. Killeen came in third with 360 votes, and Burge came in fourth with 281 votes. The four candidates will compete for two 4-year at-large seats during the Nov. 7 general election.

Gochinski, a former Greenfield selectman, was eliminated from the running with 144 votes. He said he doesn’t have any other political plans at the moment, but will continue to serve on the Democratic Town Committee and the GCTV Board of Directors.

“It was good to get the signatures and get my feet wet again, I haven’t done that in a long time,” he said. “I’m glad for the other candidates.”

Ricketts was the only candidate at Greenfield High School when the results were posted Tuesday night, and tallied them up precinct-by-precinct.

“I am so excited, I’m so happy, I never thought I’d be top vote-getter again. I didn’t expect it at all,” she said. “All the controversies really ate away at me and I didn’t think Greenfield was going to have my back this time around, and so I was planning on being devastated and coming in third or fourth, so I’m shocked and I’m happy.”

Ricketts, Burge and Killeen spent the entire day outside the high school Tuesday, surrounded by campaign signs. Domino’s pizza boxes sat on a table nearby, which Town Council Vice President Isaac Mass delivered to the candidates.

Standing on the sidewalk outside the school, Killeen said he wanted voters to know who he is and what he stands for — strong public schools, public safety and public works.

“It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shining, not a cloud in the sky,” he said. “It’s great. The people who are turning out are really showing up for us, and I very much appreciate that. Lots of waves, lots of people stopping in to say hello, ask questions. I’ve been really impressed by the level of engagement, people wanting to make a good choice for the community, and I’m really happy about that.”

Sitting in a lawn chair under a blue tent, Burge said voter turnout was low during the day, but added that she wasn’t surprised. She said it was likely due to that many residents didn’t seem to know the preliminary was happening.

“I don’t think it’s apathy,” she said. “I’d like to think that folks feel that government is important — especially now — and that their voices need to be heard.”

Assistant Town Clerk Gail Zukowski said the turnout was around 2 percent at 2:45 p.m.

Precinct 1 Councilor Verne Sund and Precinct 4 Councilor Wanda Muzyka-Pyfrom joined Burge during the afternoon to show their support.

“I support her. I’m behind her 100 percent. I like her goals and I like working with her,” Sund said.

“I’d like to see her continue her work for the Town Council, and I see she has a lot more work to do,” Muzyka-Pyfrom added.

Greenfield resident Sarah Ahern stopped to chat with Ricketts at the polls during the afternoon. She said she voted for Ricketts and Stempel.

“I feel she is a well-rounded candidate,” Ahern said of Ricketts. “She has the ability to look at both sides of an issue, and even if she disagrees with you, she will validate your opinion and try to find a common middle ground. In this political environment, we really need to find a common middle ground instead of being divisive and polarizing every single issue in this community.”

Ahern said she voted for Stempel for similar reasons.

Gochinski also stopped by the polls briefly around 5:30 p.m., according to other candidates. Stempel was on vacation in Italy and could not attend the election.

By the time the preliminary was over, Ricketts and Burge were the only councilors left at the high school. Burge left before the results were posted, but Ricketts went inside to tally votes as they were taped to the wall by poll workers.

“I’m going to give myself the rest of the week and then starting next week, I’m going to really dig my feet in and start campaigning, and I want to help other people who want to get on Council,” Ricketts said. “It’s going to be a busy fall, but I think it will be worth it.”