TOPSFIELD — Just over 31 percent of registered voters turned out Thursday to vote on a single contest and a single ballot question in the 2019 Town Election.
Across twelve separate town positions, from assessor to water commissioner, the only contest was for a three-year seat on the Regional District School Committee.
The ballot question asked residents to rule on allowing the town "to assess an additional $593,068 in real estate and personal property taxes for the purpose of funding the general fund operating budget for the elementary school for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2019."
Despite a strong conservative vote, the ballot question won out by a nearly precise two-to-one margin, with 960 voters favoring the additional assessment and 485 voters opposing it.
In the race for the Regional District School Committee seat, incumbent William J. Hodges won 764 votes to challenger Melissa Even's 433.
Even, of 165 Topsfield Road, brought strong credentials to the race as an attorney with experience in labor and employment law, municipal law, and corporate law. Additionally, she taught high school English for six years in Boston, Saugus and Phoenix, Arizona, where she served two years as the head of the English Department, and, before returning to Topsfield, two years on the Hamilton-Wenham School Committee in 2013.
Hodges, who lives at 34 Bare Hill Road, was able to trump Even's resume, however, with his own. He is current chairman of the Masconomet Regional District School Committee, was previously vice chairman and head of the Budget Subcommittee, and has served on the Committee since October 2014. He has been a management consultant for most of his career, helping both public and private sector organizations.
For other posts, those re-elected or elected for the first time were:
Stephen T. Whelan was re-elected Moderator for one year;
Mark B. Lyons was re-elected to a three-year term as selectman;
Andrew T. Prazar was elected to the Elementary School Committee for a three-year-term
Lynn A. Conant was re-elected to Assessor, for three years;
Thomas P. Walsh was re-elected Commissioner of Trust Funds, for three years;
Gail D. Bryson was re-elected and Kenneth J. Scott was elected to the Library Trustees, each for three years;
With no one running for a three-year term as Park and Cemetery Commissioner. Marshall Hook received 194 write-in votes.
Gregory S. Mellinger and Jennie M. Merrill were elected to the Planning Board, for three years;
Melissa A. Ogden was elected to a one-year term on the Regional School district;
Phillip G. Knowles was re-elected Road Commissioner, for three years.
and Richard L. Stone was re-elected Water Commissioner for three years.