LONGMEADOW – Longtime Selectman Paul Santaniello was outsted by voters in favor of incumbent Select Board Chair Richard Foster and newcomer Thomas Lachiusa, June 9 Annual Town Election.
Foster and Lachiusa, who campaigned together, received 1,086 and 1,117 votes, respectively. Santaniello, who served three terms on the board, captured 532 votes and Jeffrey Klotz received 224 votes. There were a total of 15 write-ins and 368 blanks for this race.
“The voters wanted a change and they showed up to get it,” Lachiusa said. “We appreciate all their support and we worked hard to reach this ... People have been watching the Select Board meetings and that is why we have these results.”
Foster said one issue that he will strive to address with his second term on the board is the town’s tax rate.
“We know what we’re doing, we’re approaching it, and we need to find innovative ways that we don’t hit that limit,” he added. “Now is time to get our professionals in the room to do future thinking. We can’t kick the can down the road any longer.”
This year’s election would reinforce the actions the board has had in place during the last year and a half to make the contract with Town Manager Stephen Crane work for the benefit of the Longmeadow community, Foster said.
“We’ve got a fine town manager and we’ve got to start dealing with him effectively through the executive leadership in our community,” he added.
Lachiusa said he would like to explore possible tax incentives for homeowners to create additions on their homes to increase property values and the town’s tax base.
Nearly 15 percent of registered voters turned out to the election, which also saw both new and returning candidates elected to the School Committee.
Incumbent School Committee member Michelle Grodsky was reelected and newcomer Russell Dupere defeated incumbent Kathryn Girard for three-year terms on the committee. Grodsky received 1,052 votes, while Dupere won 910 votes, and Girard obtained 770 votes. There were a total of 20 write-ins and 590 blanks for this race.
Dupere, when posed a question regarding his opinion about free full-day kindergarten, said, “I would want to see what it’s impact is on the rest of the budget, but it’s certainly something we should consider.”
He added that he hopes to make a positive impact on the committee.
Grodsky said she is looking forward to working with the Select Board to develop a long-term plan for capital needs within the town.
“I think we have a lot for the town in the future,” she added. “We’re looking at middle schools and the other needs of the town and we have to work together as leaders to come up with a way to make that work.”
Grodsky said her campaign for reelection was an “arduous process” and she’s grateful for all her supporters.
She added that she supports free full-day kindergarten in the district as well.
The list of candidates who were elected uncontested include Rebecca Townsend for a three-year term as moderator and Kenneth Taylor for a five-year term on the Planning Board.
Town Clerk Katherine Ingram said she projected a 15 percent turnout and was excited by the number of voters coming out to the cast their ballots.
Ingram said she considers the high turnout to be a change from recent years likely due to the Select Board and School Committee races.