Boutwell, Crochier Win Seats on Selectboard in Montague and Gill;
Montague Taps Oakes for School Committee, Overturning the Vote in Gill for Brown
By David Detmold - In town and school district elections on Monday, apathy reigned, with only 17.5% of the voters turning out under sunny skies to cast ballots in Montague, and 22% in Gill.
In Montague, 976 of the town’s 5,794 voters went to the polls to hand a three year seat on the selectboard to board of health chair Chris Boutwell. Boutwell, a Democrat, handily defeated two challengers with 581 votes to 193 for newcomer Rachel Roy, (R) and 150 for Margaret Pyfrom (D).
Town clerk Deb Bourbeau swamped her rival Michael Henry 881 – 60 to retain the elected position of town clerk for another three years. Bourbeau was the top vote getter townwide.
In Gill, out of 1046 eligible voters, 233 turned out to vote, or about 22%. Board of health member Randy Crochier unseated incumbent Nancy Griswold in a race for a three-year seat on the selectboard, by a vote of 161 to 71.
Fifty seven percent of Gill voters favored incumbent Sandy Brown over challenger Jane Oakes for a three year seat on the Gill-Montague regional school committee, by a vote of 130 to 99. But fifty eight percent Montague voters picked Jane Oakes, by a vote of 528 to 376 for Sandy Brown, to represent the town of Gill on the regional school committee.
Due to the disproportionate size of the electorate in Montague compared to the smaller number of voters in Gill, Montague voters in effect overruled the judgment of the voters in Gill and picked their school committee representative for them.
Among the issues raised last year at Gill town meetings during discussions about whether the town of Gill should seek to regionalize with the neighboring Pioneer Regional School District is the fact that Gill has a minority position on the regional school committee for the Gill-Montague schools, where Montague holds seven of nine seats. In the Pioneer Regional School District, all member towns have equal representation.
Running unopposed, Joyce Phillips of Turners Falls got 816 votes for another three year term from Montague on the school committee, and Marje Levenson of Lake Pleasant got 597 for another three year term from Montague.
In Montague, write in candidates still have to be contacted be the town clerk to see if they are willing to fill seats on town meeting in five of the six precincts. Only Precinct 1 (Montague Center) fielded a full slate of town meeting reps. There were no contests for town meeting in any precinct.
In Gill, Bill Draper accepted a one year term on the library trustees, after receiving six write in votes.