Defeated State Representative Dave Torrisi squeaked out a 65 vote win for school committee in town elections last month, securing him a three year term on the school committee. Torrisi was appointed to fill the seat of Laurie
Burzlaff, who resigned during her term last year to take a job in the town manager’s office.
With two seats up for grabs, incumbent Andrew McDevitt topped the ticket with 1,077 votes, Torrisi placed second with 1,015 votes.
Newcomer, Mark Svendsen, who waged a hard fought campaign, was edged out by Torrisi with 955 votes.
The race for Board of Selectmen was not quite as close.
Voters chose Phil DeCologero, former candidate for state representative and long time Democrat activist to replace the outgoing incumbent Bill Gordon, who chose not to run for re-election.
DeCologero edged out Tea Party candidate Stan Novak by 603 votes. Incumbent Dick Vallencourt toped the ticket with 1,341 votes. DeCologero garnered 1,188 beating Novak who received 585 votes.
Town Moderator Mark DiSalvo had no competition on the ballot and received 97.77% of the vote.
Ed Capodilupo, candidate for Housing Authority was also unopposed on the ballot. He received 98.39% of the vote.
With more than 27,000 people living in the Town of North Andover, only 1,883 people bothered to exercise their right to vote. North Andover Town Clerk Joyce Bradshaw said that the voter turnout total was little more than 10%.
Asked about the low turnout in North Andover, Selectman DeCologero said he believes it was because of two factors.
“A lot of people feel things are going well in North Andover. If people read The Valley Patriot or some of the other papers, what they will see happening in North Andover is the exception, not the rule. But I will say that I think one of the other reasons for such a low turnout was because there wasn’t as much activity on the political front this year because of the weather. We as candidates should have been more aggressive. If the weather was better, I think candidates would have done more work and that would have raised people’s interest.”
DeCologero says that he was planning on having half a dozen public meetings in the community but couldn’t even plan it because of the constant bad weather. “We had snow every singe week, so I do think weather was factor in the low turnout even though Election Day itself was nice that day.”
DeCologero says that running for state representative in the Democrat primary last year definitely helped him win the selectman race.
“If you look at the numbers, I over-performed in precincts that were in the state rep. district where I had been knocking on doors last fall. In the precincts where Jim Lyons is the state rep., they didn’t know me as well and naturally I didn’t do as well.”
Sworn in last week, DeCologero said his two big priorities as the new selectman are focusing on substance abuse and improving the traffic patterns on Rt. 114.
“I have already sat down with Representative DiZoglio several times to discuss what we can do to improve the traffic patterns on Rt. 114. It’s a big problem. We have to work with the state legislators to make sure North Andover as a town is on same page as the legislature. I think that’s more attainable right now than some of the other infrastructure improvement issues we are facing.”
“I also think that it’s critical to be working with local police and neighboring communities on the massive substance abuse problem everyone is facing. We need to be educating parents. Some people believe we don’t have this problem in North Andover and that’s simply not true.
The biggest thing we as a municipality can do is educate the town, and specifically parents so they can recognize the signs of addiction, they need to be familiar with what kids are taking so their children don’t go down that path. We do need more rehab facilities in the area and while that’s beyond our scope as selectmen, there are things we can do. We can apply for different public safety grants, we can work regionally with other communities to pool our resources to tackle this problem.”
DeCologero was sworn in the day after the election.