DANVERS — Despite contested races for selectman and School Committee, perhaps the biggest upset of Danvers’ town election Tuesday took place in Precinct 5.
Longtime Town Meeting member Bruce Eaton, who turns 87 this year, was defeated in a seven-way race for six three-year terms on Town Meeting.
Eaton has served 51 years on Town Meeting, including stints in 1948 and 1950 and from 1964 to 2001, when he was defeated, Assistant Town Clerk Kathleen Woytovich said. He was re-elected in 2002 and served until his defeat Tuesday night.
“I’m not bitter about it at all,” said Eaton, a consulting engineer with a small firm in Peabody. He said he did not campaign for the seat, as he voted absentee then traveled to help his wife, a professional violinist, move back to town after 41/2 months in Florida.
“I’ve been so busy with my work, and I had to go to Florida to get my wife and bring her back,” Eaton said.
Winners in Precinct 5, the area of east Danvers that includes Woodvale, were Brenna Crowley, John Duffill III, Cheryl Billings, Tenley Page Bevins, Mark McDermott and Sonya Shaffaval. Shaffaval beat Eaton by seven votes. Shaffaval and Billings were elected for the first time.
Eaton said he has a lot to do without having to worry about serving on Town Meeting, which takes place on May 19. The adjutant with American Legion Post 180 is busy pulling together a Memorial Day raffle and newsletter and, as president of the Danvers Veterans Council, is preparing the program for the Memorial Day Parade.
Eaton served on bases in the United States in the Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1945 during World War II. He was waiting for flight training when the war ended.
While Eaton said the election defeat may mean “that it is my time to start to relax,” he did not rule out running for Town Meeting next year. “It’s a possibility, for sure,” he said.