BY ETHAN FORMAN
---- — DANVERS — Incumbent Selectman and Danvers native Diane Langlais beat political newcomer Scott Herwig for her first, full three-year term on the Board of Selectmen in yesterday’s annual town election, which saw a light trickle of voters heading to a single polling location at Danvers High on Cabot Road.
About 7.5 percent of the town’s registered voters turned out.
In unofficial results, Langlais won with 1,091 votes to Herwig’s 269 votes. Langlais, who has been elected to Town Meeting in the past, won her first election for selectman.
Also vying for two available three-year terms was incumbent School Committee member Eric Crane, IBM marketing manager Jeff Kay, and former School Committee member and longtime educator Jack Billings.
Crane topped the School Committee ticket with 833 votes, while Kay, a political newcomer, came in a close second with 818 votes. Billings missed out on a chance to serve a second term on the board with 620 votes.
Langlais, 54, a former 10-year member of the Finance Committee, was appointed last year to fill a vacancy on the board. She has said that her voice is that of one who grew up in town and stayed. A native of the Woodvale neighborhood adjacent to Danvers High, the self-employed accountant worked for 10 years on Beacon Hill in constituent services for state Rep. Joan Menard.
“I think my family and friends did a great job,” said Langlais in a brief phone conversation shortly after Town Clerk Joseph Collins pasted the election results to the trophy case outside Vye Gym, the sole polling site.
Langlais had a lot of support from her family and friends, about 18 of whom voted at 7 p.m., including her grown son, Gary, and sister-in-law, Jeanne Hennessey.
Langlais served on the committee that oversaw the design and construction of the recently completed Danvers High project, and she has been the selectmen’s liaison on a study committee that has recommended spending $5.5 million for a communications dispatch center at the police station. She also worked on a committee that has recommended $6.5 million to upgrade the athletic fields at Danvers High, including the reorientation of the stadium at Deering Field and the installation of an artificial turf field to provide more opportunities for playing time for youth sports. Langlais was also active in youth sports organizations while her son was growing up and going to Danvers school.
“Hopefully, we will get through this budget,” said Langlais, who said she is serving on a good board that should get a lot done. The board reorganizes and picks a new chairman at its meeting tomorrow night.
“Better luck next year,” said Herwig, who was disappointed at the loss. He acknowledged that he’s new to town but said he intends to stay involved. He won a seat on Town Meeting in Precinct 3 last night.
Herwig, who grew up in Salem and graduated from Salem High in 1995, moved to town six months ago. He has lived in other parts of the country, including North Carolina, Texas, New Hampshire and New York. A self-taught drummer and guitarist, he formerly organized the Witchstock Music Festival at Salem Willows. He works as an auto appraiser and formerly worked for five years on the armed tactical response team at Seabrook Station nuclear power plant.
In a nod to the Bruins squaring off against Montreal last night, Herwig, 36, wore a Bruins jersey as he canvassed outside the polls. Among supporters holding signs with Herwig was his wife, Samantha, and Tom Lyons, a West Peabody resident and Republican seeking to unseat longtime Democratic state Rep. Ted Speliotis.
Crane, 53, is the longest-serving member of the School Committee. He was first appointed in 2000 and has won re-election to the board in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2011. Crane, a 1978 graduate of Danvers High, is an attorney who now works for Travelers Massachusetts. He has said he is a strong believer in public education.
“Very gratified of the voters of the town who sent me back and let me do the job I love,” Crane said.
Crane praised Kay, who will be serving on the school board with him.
“He’ll bring some new experiences,” Crane said. “I couldn’t be happier with the way it worked out.”
Crane said all the challengers worked hard to win.
“This one gives me a lot of satisfaction,” Crane said.
Kay, 44, wore a business suit and held signs with his name and an apple depicted on them at the high school all day with his wife, Kim LaBonte Kay, and his son, Bryce. His mother, Sandra, worked as a poll worker in Precinct 8.
Kay said he was inspired by the election process, and he worked hard to win. He is presently an active member of the Riverside Elementary School Parent Advisory Council.
“It’s really a network,” Kay said, “how are you able to connect with people, bring those ideas forward. I listened a lot.” Kay said he got support from voters who came up to him from outside the PAC, including those who read articles or watched debates on Danvers Community Access Television.
Billings, 57, served a term on the School Committee from 2000 to 2003. A graduate of St. John’s Prep and lifelong educator who began his teaching career at Highland School, Billings has a long list of community service in town, including Town Meeting, the Planning Board and the Charter Review Committee.
Turnout was light during the first half of the election, which took place at Vye Gym for the first time since 2010. As of 3:30 p.m., 843 voters out of 18,899 had turned out. In the end, 1,413 cast ballots.
The town had experimented with a single polling location for its eight precincts in 2008, but with the pending Danvers High renovation and traffic tie-ups during a snowy special U.S. Senate election, selectmen voted to return to four polling locations in 2010. With the high school project complete, selectmen voted last year to move all voting back to Vye Gym.
Races for Town Moderator, Library Trustees and Housing Authority were uncontested. Patricia Fraizer won another one-year term as moderator, Wilbur Cobb, Charles Desmond and Irene Conte won three year terms as library trustees, and Carla King was elected to another five-year term on the Housing Authority. A number of Town Meeting races were also decided last night.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.
Danvers unofficial election results
*Diane Langlais 1,091
Scott Herwig 269
School Committee (2 seats)
*Eric Crane 833
Jeff Kay 818
Jack Billings 620