HARWICH — Ed McManus squeaked past a serious challenge from political newcomer Thomas Sherry in Tuesday's annual election, winning a seat on the board of selectmen by just 21 votes.
Sherry, asked Tuesday night if he was considering a recount, said he was not sure and would have to mull it over.
“Right now I just want to thank the people who worked so hard for me,” he said.
McManus received 901 votes with Sherry earning 880 votes. A third candidate, Steven JF Scannell, received 69 votes.
Voters also approved two major debt exclusion ballot questions, reaffirming town meeting votes for $24.7 million for phase two of the comprehensive wastewater management plan, which will bring sewer infrastructure to East Harwich and provide a conduit to treatment in Chatham. Also approved was $6.75 million for the construction of a new fire station in East Harwich.
Voter turnout was smaller than expected with only 1,881 ballots cast by the 10,672 registered voters in town.
Those casting ballots also approved a $700,000 debt exclusion ballot question to provide additional funding for the annual town road maintenance program. Voters supported the ballot question reaffirming town meeting votes last year allowing amendments to the home rule charter.
“Now we start moving forward with all the projects town meeting has authorized and finish up the one's we've got going,” McManus said of the tasks ahead. “The town also needs to develop a much better means of communication. The level of misinformation needs to be combated.”
McManus, 65, is a self-employed carpenter who previously served for 11 years on the board of selectmen and presently serves on the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates. He will now have to resign from that position to comply with a local home rule charter provision that prohibits selectmen from serving in other elected positions.
McManus said he planned to participate in an assembly of delegates meeting on Wednesday and would submit a letter of resignation at the end of the session. He also said he will submit letters of resignation to the town clerk this week for his positions on the finance committee and capital outlay committee so he can be sworn in as a selectman in time for Monday's meeting.
“I feel absolutely great,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Michael MacAskill said of the 1,287-524 vote in support of phase two of the comprehensive wastewater management plan. “I'm glad there was so much support, it was overwhelmingly voted by the number of voters that went to the polls. Moving forward we'll do it on our terms and not let the state dictate.”
Voters also supported $6.75 million for the new East Harwich fire station by an 1,154-657 vote.
“I'm thrilled,” Fire Chief Norman Clarke said of the outcome. “It's been a long time on the capital plan and the firefighters really need an upgrade there.”
Clarke thanked the board of selectmen, finance committee and especially the citizens of the community for their support. He said clearing for the project will begin around July 1. He also said he'd be bringing the contract for the project before selectmen next week.
MacAskill applauded the station two rehabilitation committee and the fire chief for doing a great job of educating the public to the needs, not wants, of the project.
Questions five and six on the ballot, capital exclusions seeking $76,078 to install bathroom facilities at the stadium field at Monomoy Regional High School and $36,625 to be added to a school district's stabilization fund, became moot when voters in town meeting decided to use free cash to fund the requests. Voters still provided positive votes on the ballot questions.
As for the debt exclusion vote seeking funding for a pet crematorium, which was indefinitely postponed on town meeting floor, voters resoundingly rejected the ballot question by a 267 to 1,530 margin.
The selectmen's race was the only contested one on the annual election ballot. Other candidates returned to office for three-year terms were Moderator Michael D. Ford with 1,596 votes; Monomoy Regional School Committee member Robert T. Russell with 1,495 votes; Water Commissioner Gary A. Carreiro with 1,400 votes; and Brooks Free Library trustees Joan A. McCarty with 1,347 votes, Kathleen A Remillard with 1,394 votes and Jeannie S. Wheeler with 1,307 votes. Judith A. Underwood was elected to a one-year unexpired term on the Water Commission with 1,471 votes.