|By Chris Maza|
EAST LONGMEADOW Spring has sprung and with it comes another town election.
The Annual Town Election, which includes two contested races, is slated for April 9 at Birchland Park Middle School. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Florence said, weather depending, he expects a fairly significant turnout.
"Annual elections tend to draw a little bit more," he said. "With two contested races, I would expect the turnout to be somewhere between 17 and 20 percent."
He said that the race for a three-year seat on the Board of Selectmen between incumbent Peter Punderson and challenger Angela Thorpe also played into his turnout forecast.
"Especially given the fact that previous elections between Mr. Punderson and Ms. Thorpe have been so close, I would expect a greater number of people coming out to support them," he said.
Punderson has thrice edged Thorpe in recent elections. Punderson was the top vote-getter in the Nov. 20, 2012 special preliminary election for the remainder of former Selectman James Driscoll's term, which expires this month, while Thorpe came in second, setting up an extremely close special election on Dec. 12, 2012.
In that election, Punderson squeaked past Thorpe by 12 votes, prompting her to call for a recount, which reaffirmed the original results.
In the preliminary for the upcoming election, Punderson and Thorpe again were the two top vote-getters. Punderson led the way with 653 votes, followed by Thorpe, who captured 625 votes.
The other contested race pits longtime Board of Public Works member John Maybury, currently the board's chair, against challenger Thomas O'Brien.
Florence said that per usual, his office will be using various means in an attempt to augment voter turnout, including signs, messages on the town's website and "robo-calls."
After the town election, residents will be asked to go to the polls two more times to help decide Massachusetts' next member of the Senate, replacing John Kerry, who left the position to serve as Secretary of State.
A primary election will take place on April 30, with the final election scheduled for June 25.
The deadline to register for the special primary is April 10. Residents may register on weekdays at the Clerk's Office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and until 8 p.m. on April 10. Absentee ballots for this election are also available now in the Clerks' Office and can be obtained through April 29 at noon.
Those seeking more information on registering or requesting an absentee ballot should call the Clerk's Office at 525-5400 ext. 1000.
According to Florence, including local, state and federal elections, the upcoming polling will mark the 11th time in 13 months that East Longmeadow has hosted an election.
"It's been a very busy time for us," he said. "We have two more to get through, and then hopefully we'll get a little break."
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