DANVERS — Retired Massachusetts Appeals Court Judge David Mills topped the ticket in the three-way race for two seats on the Board of Selectmen, while Selectman Dan Bennett cruised to his third term in yesterday’s annual Town Election.
Incumbent Keith Lucy, the board’s most senior member, lost in his bid to serve another three years.
In unofficial results, Mills earned 1,565 votes, Bennett came in second with 1,419 votes and Lucy chalked up 901 votes.
Less than 12.2 percent of the town’s 18,965 voters went to the polls.
“This was a very, very beautiful, personal ...” said Mills as he choked up giving his acceptance speech at Timothy’s, the former Village Green, on Route 1. “That’s who you voted for, you know who I am. I do get emotional about these things. This was a wonderful personal experience for me.”
“This was getting your vote out and having your supporters going out and voting for you,” Bennett said of the race. “I think the voters recognized I work hard for the community and I’m dedicated to doing the job and they weren’t afraid to vote for me.”
Mills said he could not have won without his supporters, who campaigned for him, collected signatures and held signs.
“I didn’t win anything, we won,” said Mills, 70, a retired 11-year state Appeals Court judge and former land use attorney whose home sits across the street from Town Hall. Mills gave up town politics while serving as a judge from 2001 to 2012, having formerly served as moderator. He has also served as a Town Meeting member.
Yesterday’s race came with the backdrop of former Selectman Mike Powers’ resignation in April, and selectmen Chairman Bill Clark saying he would like to move to nominate whoever loses. The board meets tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall to reorganize.
Powers and Clark made the rounds last night, visiting both Bennett, at his home on Page Street, and Mills’ victory party at Timothy’s. Selectman Gardner Trask worked for Mills and supported Bennett.
“It’s obvious by the results it’s about a change,” Trask said of the race, “and I think it was really about making sure that people feel welcome and heard at selectmen’s meetings and valued even when their opinions differed.”
Trask said Mills’ long history in town was an advantage, and joked, “I think between (Mills) and Billy Clark, the selectmen are going to know everything there is to know about the town and every person who lives in it.”
Mills and Clark are longtime friends — their fathers once served on the Finance Committee together in the late 1950s.
“I never thought you and I would serve together after a lifetime, you know,” Clark said.
Mills said one of the top issues he hears from residents is a concern over the tax rate.
“They are afraid at how much our government is costing, and I can certainly relate to that,” Mills said.
Lucy, 48, had made a career as a selectman on keeping an eye on how the town spends taxpayer money. He declined comment when he arrived at Bennett’s house to congratulate him on his victory. Lucy had also gone to Timothy’s to shake Mills’ hand.
Lucy works as an electrical engineer and is a married father of two high-school aged children. He grew up in Topsfield and moved to Danvers in 1993, and has been an ardent proponent during tax classification time of making sure any tax hikes are spread fairly among homeowners and commercial and industrial property owners. He is also a member of the high school Design and Construction Advisory Committee.
“I have found both Keith Lucy and Dan Bennett to me to be perfect gentlemen,” Mills said, “and also just in the last couple of months I have come to respect the enormous amount of time and effort they have been putting into this town for the last 10 or 12 years.”
“He’s done a lot of good things for the board and I appreciate the work that he has done,” Bennett said of Lucy. “He will be missed. He was a good addition to the board.”
Bennett, 64, works as a self-employed real estate broker and is a trustee of Essex Agricultural and Technical High. He was first elected as a selectman in 2007.
In the only other townwide race, Michael Swindell beat incumbent Ann Marie Penick 1,070 to 824 for a five-year term on the Housing Authority. Swindell, a retired Housing Authority maintenance staff worker, declined to comment on the race.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.