Betts, Gleason take school board seats
Nelson wins selectman post in Montague
Cathy Marold and Mary Ellen Bricker, both of Greenfield, campaign for School Committee candidate Donna Gleason at Chapman and Silver streets on Tuesday.
Voting for precincts 1-5 takes place upstairs at the Guiding Star Grange in Greenfield on Tuesday.
While Montague elected Michael M. Nelson as the town’s newest selectman on Tuesday, Greenfield elected elementary school teacher Margaret Betts and write-in candidate and retiring principal Donna Gleason to the two open seats on its School Committee. Greenfield voters also re-elected incumbent At-large Town Councilor Patrick Devlin to serve another three-year term.
Greenfield had to count ballots manually on Tuesday, so results weren’t available until after 10 p.m. That’s because Gleason ran as an 11th-hour write-in candidate, defeating writer and publicist Wesley Blixt, who was on the ballot and had campaigned with Betts — and James Allen, who was ousted from the Planning Board last week by Town Council, decided to run a surprise last-minute write-in campaign to oust Devlin.
In Montague, Nelson, 31, of 49 Greenfield Road in Montague City defeated opponent Jeanne A. Golrick, 59, of 11 West Main St. in Millers Falls 1,623-278.
Thirty-three percent, or 1,901 of Montague’s 5,735 voters, came out on Tuesday.
Nelson chairs the town’s Board of Health and is known for his creation or management of a string of events in the town and county, including the annual Pumpkinfest on Avenue A.
During his campaign, he had said that, if he won, he would maintain what he sees as the town’s momentum in a positive direction and would work to address blight, including the former Montague Center School and tax-taken Strathmore.
Nelson replaces Patricia Allen, who resigned this year for family reasons and concluded her 14-year tenure on Monday. The partial term he will serve expires in May 2014.
In Greenfield, Blixt, Betts and Gleason were vying for two three-year seats on Tuesday.
Forty-three percent, or 4,724 of Greenfield’s 10,982 voters, came out.
Betts received 2,107 votes, Gleason received 1,385, and Blixt received 1,232. Those counts were unofficial at press time.
For months, it seemed that ballot candidates Betts and Blixt would have no trouble securing seats, but Gleason’s entrance into the race during its final two weeks changed that and led Blixt to post an angry comment on her Facebook page, which seemed to galvanize some supporters of the write-in candidate.
Betts, 35, is a six-year teacher with a legal background. She has stressed a need for the school department to improve data analysis, increase transparency and establish more trust in it superintendent.
Gleason, 65, will retire this week as the Discovery School at Four Corners elementary principal after 34 years in the Greenfield school system. A Greenfield High School alumna herself, she said she entered the race as a write-in to continue the progress she has seen the school department make during the past five years.
Also in Greenfield, Devlin won easily with 2,344 votes to Allen’s 34 votes. Those counts were also unofficial at press time.
Devlin, 62, of Bernardston Road will return to the seat he has held for the past three years and said he will continue the work he has done on the council.
Devlin, who has never tried to hide that he intends to try to keep a “biomass” wood-burning plant from coming to town, said he wants to help Greenfield plan for a “sustainable” future.
Also in Greenfield, Precinct 7 Councilor Karen “Rudy” Renaud, Precinct 8 Councilor Karen Shapiro-Miller, Precinct 9 Councilor Norman Hirschfeld, and At-large Councilor Mark Maloni, who all ran unopposed, were re-elected to three-year terms.
To see how all Franklin County towns voted in the U.S. Senate election, go this shortened Web address: http://bit.ly/10h4gw6
Reporters Anita Fritz, Chris Curtis and Chris Shores contributed to this story.