Northborough candidates reflect on election results

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Northborough voters headed to Melican Middle School to cast their ballots on Tuesday. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

NORTHBOROUGH – Newly elected members of Northborough boards and committees thanked voters this week, just a matter of days after the town held its 2022 municipal elections.

Among them, new Selectman Mitch Cohen said he was “humbled” and “honored” to have been elected to the board.

“Thank you to all the voters who took time out of their day to cast their ballots,” Cohen told the Community Advocate. “I look forward to working with my four fellow board members to work very hard to represent all of Northborough.” 

Cohen wins in Selectmen race

Official election results showed Cohen securing 1,085 votes, beating longtime incumbent Leslie Rutan, who received 886 votes, and fellow challenger Tom Dalton, who received 37 votes. 

Cohen, who described himself as a “local government nerd” during the election, had previously spent six years as a selectman in Douglas until 2012. He has since been involved locally with numerous boards in Northborough.

He discussed his ideas about the Board of the Selectmen’s role in town in comments this week.

“Transparency is the basis on which all board operations should be built,” Cohen said. “I see the public as both the boss and the customer of the Board of Selectmen.”

He said he will bring forward specific recommendations “very soon” on improvements.

“Changes in board operations require more than just one member,” Cohen said. “I believe support exists to make substantial and lasting improvements. I ask that our boss, the public, provide us feedback and recommendations on how we can improve your ability to participate in your town’s government.”

He continued, thanking Rutan for her years of service. 

“She and I did not run against one another, just both for the same position,” Cohen said. “Thank you, Leslie.” 

Rutan has spent more than 20 years in public office, serving from 2000 to 2004 on the School Committee. She was then elected as a selectman in 2004, remaining on the board up until this year’s elections. 

Rutan had served as chair of the Board of Selectmen during her tenure and was serving in the role of vice chair during her most recent term. 

“It was my goal to run a respectful and positive campaign for voters,” Rutan wrote in an email. “I am honored to have been able to serve on the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee and to have been the voice for many.”

She thanked the community for its support and noted that she looks forward to the future.

Pierce wins Planning Board seat

Cohen is not the only new face joining Northborough boards this spring. 

Bill Pierce was elected to the Northborough Planning Board. 

“I am honored and thrilled that the voters of Northborough chose me to represent them as a Planning Board member,” Pierce said.

Pierce thanked voters and his family, friends and supporters who helped with his first campaign.

Pierce and fellow candidate Jon Lien were vying for a seat previously held by Michelle Gillespie, who decided not to run this year after serving on the Planning Board for 18 years.

Pierce thanked Gillespie for her service. 

He encouraged residents who are interested in how government works to get involved with a board or committee, noting his start and local involvement. Many boards have openings, he noted.

“This is how you can influence the town in a specific area and learn how town government works,” Pierce said.

Frank, MacKnight win in School Committee races

In other races, Joan Frank secured another term as a Northborough representative on the Regional School Committee while Bryce MacKnight is joining the Northborough School Committee. 

MacKnight said he was “honored, humbled and thrilled” to be elected, thanking voters as well as his opponent Gigi Howell. 

“I look forward to working with my fellow committee members, parents and administration to bring a robust, inclusive, healthy and accessible learning environment for all students and families,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do in the coming years, and I look forward to the possibilities that can come from working together with all stakeholders.”

Frank thanked Northborough and Southborough voters following her win over William Barlow Redfern II, and said she was looking forward to addressing pandemic-era learning loss and its outcomes while also supporting social and emotional learning.

“It is an honor and privilege to serve the residents of both towns, but it is an even higher honor to know that the students and staff are the direct recipients of what a School Committee member does through the budget process and policy development,” she said.

Outside of contested races, Frederick George won a new term as Town Moderator, while Matthew Spencer won a seat on the Regional School Committee as a Southborough representative.

 

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