By Chris Maza|
EAST LONGMEADOW For Angela Thorpe, the outcome was positive, even if it wasn't exactly what she hoped.
The count of the Dec. 18, 2012 special election for the remainder of former Selectman James Driscoll's term on the Board of Selectmen was reaffirmed on Jan. 5 after a recount that took nearly 2.5 hours.
"Obviously you run to win, so I'm disappointed from that point of view, but this was a positive outcome because it showed that our election process works," she said. "I hope that this will help improve voter confidence in future elections."
Thorpe called for the recount, collecting at least 10 signatures from each precinct, after she lost the election to Peter Punderson by 12 votes, a tally of 836-824.
Thorpe explained that she felt it was important to reaffirm voters in the wake of former Selectman Enrico "Jack" Villamaino's alleged attempt to defraud the voting system by stealing votes through illegal absentee voting in his bid for state representative for the Second Hampden District.
Debra Boronski, who defeated write-in candidate Bryan Doe, filled Villamaino's seat, which he vacated in the midst of the scandal.
The ballots, which were separated by precinct in bins sealed after the election with numbered tags, were opened one precinct at a time with election officials counting and tabulating the results in groups of 50 ballots at a time.
Thorpe and Punderson were allowed to oversee the process, but yellow caution tape separated the general public from election officials and the candidates.
Town Clerk Thomas Florence said that the recount yielded the exact same result. He added that there was one ballot that was challenged because a voter wrote in Punderson rather than making the appropriate mark on the ballot next to his name. The vote was counted as a blank originally and could have been considered an additional vote for Punderson, but because it would not change the outcome of the election, no action would be taken on the ballot.
The recount officially put the 2012 election season, which featured seven elections, to rest. Florence said he felt the process went well, especially considering that the town has never had a recount in the 10 years he has served as Town Clerk.
"I'm sure at some point if I looked back in the archives I could find a time when we've had one, but they are very rare," he said. "All of the volunteers who made this happen did an outstanding job."
Thorpe took time to thank those who came to support her during the recount at the East Longmeadow Public Library's Community Room as well as those who offered support through their vote and said she would be running again for the seat, which has a term that expires in April.
"I am very thankful for the amount of support that I have received during my campaign, during the election and in the days following the election," she said. "I have a lot of confidence because of that support heading into another campaign."
Punderson said that he was honored by the voters' choice and that he would take the next few months to prove they made the right decision as he pursues reelection.
"I'm certainly ready for it," Punderson said of serving on the Board of Selectmen while running a campaign so soon after concluding one. "To serve on the Board of Selectmen is a privilege and I am going to continue to work for the town making decisions based on facts and proper procedures.
"I am going to be going door to door and I will be active in the community [during my campaign]. I didn't use all of my resources during the last election, so I feel I am ready [to start a new campaign]," he continued.
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