Although voters won’t see any contested races on the ballot, residents are urged to fulfill their civic duty by voting in the Town’s March 10 election.
Years where there are no contested races have occurred in Londonderry from time to time. It can be an indication of strong candidates or that the Town is generally happy with the direction the Town is going in and wants to continue on that path, according to Town Councilor Tom Dolan.
“I for one, philosophically, believe it’s better to have contested races. I think it sharpens the debate and maintains interest in the electorate to a larger degree,” he said. “When races are uncontested, people often stay home and don’t vote. There’s a struggle to get voters to turn out in our community and across the country, and it’s disappointing to see so few people that go out and exercise their right to vote. So anything that further suppresses that is disappointing to me, and uncontested races are, in my view, not necessarily a good thing.”
Dolan noted Londonderry generally sees around 10 to 20 percent voter turnout in local elections.
“With young democracies coming online, it’s borderline embarrassing that people are not more engaged in selecting their government representatives and choosing some of the decisions that are afforded to them that are on the ballot,” Dolan said. “We have two governments, the school and town, and they financially have the greatest impact on our voters – much more than the national election. To choose not to participate at the local level is disappointing.”
Incumbents for two seats on the School Board, Chairman Leitha Reilly and Steve Young, are running unopposed.
Incumbent Vice Chairman Jim Butler is also running unopposed for one seat opening on the Town Council.
Incumbent Gary Vermillion is seeking re-election to the Budget Committee for a three-year term; incumbent Sherry Farrell, for re-election as Town Clerk for a three-year term; James Hooley, for election to the Budget Committee for a two-year term; and incumbents Carole Introne and Betsy McKinney for re-election as Trustees of the Trust Fund for three-year terms.
“Usually, we have a little something, a challenge on the Town Council. But they’re not generally all hotly contested races,” Deputy Town Clerk Kathleen Donnelly said.
No one has filed to run for either of two three-year terms as Trustees of the Trust Fund.
The positions could be filled by write-in candidates, according to Donnelly.
“If there are write-in candidates, the top two write-ins would be asked if they would like to serve. There’s no threshold, they don’t need a certain number of write-in votes. If they refuse to serve, or there are no write-ins, the Town Council, in conference with the Town Manager, would reach out and ask people if they would be willing to serve,” she said. “It’s too bad not to have anyone who wants to run.”
Donnelly said positions have been filled by write-in candidates in the past. Greg Warner, who is serving on the Budget Committee, was the top write-in vote-getter for an open seat for which no one had filed.
Dolan said he is pushing to get young people more involved in volunteering in the community, which has been shown to engage people on the civic side.
“People involved in volunteer organizations have very high voter turnout. I put out a recent call to help seniors during the snowstorms. I’d like to give birth to a new volunteer effort in that regard, to get more young people involved,” he said, noting the Town does have several young people who serve on various boards and committees with the Town. “It’s better for the community, their staying involved, staying in touch and voting.”
The Supervisors of the Checklist will meet at Town Hall on Feb. 28 from 10 a.m. to noon to register voters and correct the checklist. It will be the last day for residents to register before the election.
Proof of citizenship, identity and residency is needed to register, or a signed affidavit will be accepted.
Residents may also register at the election.