Despite the shadow of coronavirus hanging over the polls, voters in Hamilton and Wenham came out in force Thursday to make their opinions known about education and schools.
The big winner of the day for both towns was a Proposition 2 1/2 override to pay each town's allocable share of the bond issued by the Hamilton-Wenham School District for the purpose of paying costs of the Regional School District FY 2021 Capital Plan.
Wenham voters went 587 to 342 for the proposition. Hamilton's numbers were not in by press time, but they were expected to be in line with their neighbor's.
The plan, as follows, and including all incidental and related costs: Security and infrastructure improvements, $350,000; Elementary School Facilities studies and educational plan, $250,000; Classroom furniture and equipment, $120,000; Replace sidewalks at Middle School, $110,000; Athletic Campus Improvement Project — Design/Project services, $65,000; and Network Infrastructure improvement (Phase 1 of 4), $63,000.
In Wenham's other four questions, the votes were as follows:
— To assess an additional $361,640 in real estate and personal property taxes to fund the town operating budget for fiscal year 2020: Approved, 587 to 342.
— To assess an additional $50,000 in real estate and personal property taxes to fund loose-leaf pickup for fiscal year 2020. Defeated, 373 to 552.
— To assess an additional $723,722 in real estate and personal property taxes to fund the Town's annual assessment for the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District Fiscal Year 2021 operating budget, as approved by the Regional School Committee. Approved 578 to 345.
— Shall the Town of Wenham be allowed to exempt from the provisions of Proposition Two and a half, so-called, the amounts required for the purchase and equipping of a new fire truck, including all incidental and related costs. Approved, 567 to 338.
The only contest on the ballots in both towns — Three candidates seeking two open seats on the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School Committee — resulted in the election of Anna Siedzik, with 631 votes; and Dana Allara, with 590. Tai Pryjma, came in a distant third with 308 votes.
In uncontested Wenham races:
— Gary Cheeseman was elected to the single open seat on the Board of Selectmen with 772 votes;
— David Bruce Anderson, running unopposed for a Planning Board seat, received 713 votes and
— Mark Carleo received 760 votes in his run to fill an open seat on the Housing Authority.
Several Wenham incumbents were also running unopposed:
— Lisa Craig received 769 votes for the Board of Assessors;
— Regina Baker received 780 votes for the Board of Health;
— Dorothy Goudie received 790 votes for library trustee;
— Marc Liphardt received 773 votes for the Water Commission, and
— Dianne Bucco got the high tally of the night, with 868 votes for town clerk.
In uncontested Hamilton races:
— James Knudsen, unopposed in his quest for a seat on the Board of Selectmen received 741 of 1004 votes with 13 write-ins;
— William Bowler was elected town moderator, receiving 699 votes with 12 write-ins;
— Carin Kale was elected town clerk with 739 votes and 10 write-ins;
— Joseph Shaktman received 695 votes for a place on the Board of Assessors, and
— Planning Board incumbents Richard Boroff and Margaret Crouch were voted back in with 554 and 619 votes respectively.
Three Hamilton positions — an unexpired term on the Planning Board, library trustee at large, and a Housing Authority seat — were uncontested and may be determined by write-in votes
The elections, which were originally scheduled for April, were postponed until yesterday because of the coronavirus pandemic, and were adapted to address safety concerns including shortened polling hours, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., rather than the usual 12-hour stretch.
An unusually high number of voters opted to vote by absentee ballot, an option that ended at noon Wednesday in both towns
Hamilton voted at the Hamilton-Wenham Recreation Center Library on Union Street and Wenham voted at the Buker School on School Street.
The vote tallies in this story were all preliminary, as of 9:30 p.m. Thursday.