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Preliminary election needed in race for selectman's seat

Feb. 7, 2013
By Chris Maza


EAST LONGMEADOW — Four residents submitted nomination papers for the 2013 election for a three-year seat on the Board of Selectmen.

With four candidates vying for the position, a preliminary election will take place on March 12.

"It looks like we're going to have a preliminary election," Town Clerk Thomas Florence said. "The nomination papers were due on Jan. 29 and everyone who had taken out papers have returned them except [former School Committee member Joseph] Cabrera."

The two top vote-getters in the preliminary would go on to face off in the town election on April 9.

The only scenario in which a preliminary election could be avoided would be if two candidates withdrew from the election.

"Feb. 14 is the last day to withdraw, but I don't see that happening," Florence said.

Selectman Peter Punderson will seek re-election against former School Committee member Angela Thorpe, former Selectman Joseph Townshend and resident Ronald Cutler for the seat he won in a special election to fill the position, which became vacant when James Driscoll resigned from the board.

Punderson defeated Thorpe by a mere 12 votes in the special election, which prompted Thorpe to request a recount, which confirmed Punderson's victory.

Townshend also ran for Driscoll's seat, but was defeated by Punderson and Thorpe in the preliminary election.

Cutler has run for selectman in the past, most recently getting beat out by Paul Federici in 2009.

The only other contested race in this year's town election cycle is for a seat on the Board of Public Works in which John Marbury will seek re-election against Thomas O'Brien.

School Committee members William Fonseca and Elizabeth Marsian-Boucher will be unopposed in their bids for re-election. Cabrera also took out nomination papers for a seat on the School Committee, but did not return them.

After the town's elections are complete, the special Senate elections for the seat vacated by John Kerry will begin with a primary election on April 30, followed by the final election on June 25.

"We can have four more elections before the fiscal year ends," Florence said. "The Senate election is happening at a good time because Birchland Park Middle School will be out of school and we won't have some of the traffic issues. The last time there was a special Senate election, we had almost a 50 percent turnout."

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