HARWICH – Council on Aging Director Emily Mitchell will be the next town clerk after she out-distanced her two competitors by more than 1,000 votes in Tuesday’s election. Voters also approved three ballot questions.
Mitchell garnered 1,321 votes to challengers Shelagh Delaney’s 318 votes and Jannell Brown’s 315 votes. Mitchell will be stepping down as director of the council on aging this week and is expected to be sworn in as the new town clerk Tuesday. Under Massachusetts General Law town clerks are sworn in on the “seventh day succeeding the election, or as soon thereafter as he (she) is qualified.”
“I’m excited, shocked, thrilled and grateful,” Mitchell said of the results. “I think we have a really strong and engaging community. I’d like to thank Shelagh and Jannell for their participation in the contest. It made for a better campaign.”
Mitchell said her campaign team played a major role in the victory by putting together good programs, knocking on doors and reaching out to voters.
“I’m grateful the voters responded,” she said. “Thank you for the strong support and turnout. It’s a testament to our community.”
The biggest challenge facing Mitchell as she steps into her new position is “learning what I don’t know, and preparing for the fall elections.” Mitchell said she has been meeting with members of the Cape area town clerks’ professional network to learn more about the job.
As for leaving her position as director of the COA, Mitchell said she thinks the COA is in a strong place with a great professional team serving the community, and she does not expect there will be any lapse in service.
Delaney, who serves as the executive assistant in the town clerk’s office, said she will remain in the position.
There were no other races on the ballot. The two incumbent selectmen seeking reelection, Selectman Julie Kavanagh and Michael MacAskill, received 1,410 and 1,310 votes respectively for three-year terms. MacAskill has served on the board for seven years and Kavanagh for four years.
Turnout was relatively light. A total of 1,962 ballots were cast, 18 percent of registered voters.
By a 1,430 to 516 margin, a $700,000 debt exclusion ballot question was approved providing funds for the department of public works’ annual road maintenance program. A ballot question confirming charter amendments approved by town meeting in May 2021 also passed. The charter changes will now require a five-year capital plan; it previously called for a seven year plan. Language in the amendments also sets the criteria for a capital item at a cost of $50,000 or more. The charter amendments passed by a 1,579 to 242 vote.
Residents casting ballots also strongly supported a non-binding referendum submitted by citizen petition calling for local government to communicate with state officials the need to employ all means available to ensure Holtec Pilgrim, owner of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, commits to immediately withdraw any plans to dump radioactive water into Cape Cod Bay. That vote was 1,698 to 126.
Several candidates were re-elected to three-year terms, including Monomoy Regional School Committee member Tina Games-Evans with 1,525 votes; water/wastewater commissioner Judith Underwood with 1,550 votes; Brooks Free Library trustees William Crowell with 1,563 votes; and Bernadette Waystack with 1,469 votes. Newcomer to the housing authority Arthur Bodin was elected to a two-year term with 1,525 votes.