Ness wins Deerfield Selectboard race, 719-490

  • Voters show their support for Carolyn Ness outside Deerfield Town Hall on Monday, May 7. RECORDER STAFF/Paul Franz

  • Deerfield residents cast their votes in Deerfield Town Hall on Monday, May 7. RECORDER STAFF/Paul Franz

  • Deerfield residents check in to vote in Deerfield Town Hall on Monday, May 7. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Voters politicking outside Deerfield Town Hall on Monday, May 7. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 5/7/2018 10:57:35 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — In a race that one longtime resident likened to the 2016 contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, it was the longtime public servant and town-fixture Carolyn Shores Ness who came out victorious Monday.

Winning 719 to 490 votes in the initial town count, Ness won the lone Deerfield Selectboard seat in this year’s annual town election.

Ness ran on a campaign that emphasized her 15 straight years on the Selectboard and service in town government since the 1980s.

She said in the lead-up to the election she felt the competitive spirit of the election was “energizing” and reminded her of what she views as her biggest strength, connecting with people.

She defeated Erich Brown, a civil engineer who moved to town six years ago with his family, after traveling across the country for work as a project manager in construction. He had said he wanted to run because he felt more people, especially those who are younger, should get involved with local politics, but detractors said he had no experience and shouldn’t jump to the top to start.

“At some point in time, people from my generation need to get involved, so that there is backfill in these positions, just like any other organization, and turnover and fresh perspective,” 41-year-old Brown said last week.

Instead, the incumbent held on to the position and will have an opportunity to continue to advance an agenda led by issues affected by climate change, such as health hazards posed by mosquitoes and ticks, culvert repair and enlargement, and other issues like senior housing and education.

The race, though, seems to have hit a nerve in town, drawing a large turnout for a local election and raising issues of term limits, the value of experience and whether a town can be run like a business.

For the November 2016 election, 2,941 Deerfield residents voted. A total of 1,211 voters came out for the local election on this spring day in May 2018.

Assessing power

Henry “Kip” Komosa’s bid to assume three positions in Deerfield was stopped short by incumbent Assessor Charles Shattuck, by the vote of 771-to-359.

Komosa’s bid for an assessor seat drew ire from some in town, mostly those aligning themselves with Ness. Outside Town Hall, one sign read, “No Komosa Assessor, No 3 Positions of Power.”

Komosa serves on the Selectboard and Planning Board.

Some Ness supporters have suggested that maybe people in town should be limited to how many seats they can serve on, while some Brown and Komosa supporters have raised the idea of instituting term limits and the possibility of extending the Selectboard to five people instead of three.

Other positions

With two slots for three people running for Deerfield School Committee, incumbent and Selectman Trevor McDaniel won with 803 votes, alongside incumbent Mary Ramon with 714 votes, defeating Tolly Stark, who was backed by some in the Ness camp, tallying 494 votes.

A handful of people ran for the three three-year Planning Board seats. Incumbent Rachel Blain took home the most votes with 842. Joining her are incumbents Max Antes Jr. and Paul Allis with 643 and 605 votes, respectively. Steven Pistrich’s bid came up short with 332 votes and write-in Erika Higgins recorded 198 votes.

Olivia Leone won as a write-in for the Frontier Regional School Committee seat, which had no one on the ballot. Leone collected 314 votes, and was backed by Ness supporters.

Leonard Grybko Jr. won re-election for elector under Oliver Smith Will, a one-year term, despite efforts by Ness supporters to run Leslie Dwight as a write-in. Grybko won decisively, 762 to 164.

Write-in Satu Zoller won the Tilton Library trustee seat, a three-year term, which had no one running. Zoller was backed by Ness supporters and garnered 291 votes.

All write-in tallies are not final, although at press time they were not expected to influence the result of any of the races.

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