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Mailloux, Thorpe top preliminary, focus on next race

Date: 3/19/2012

March 19, 2012

By Chris Maza

EAST LONGMEADOW — While it seems no one is sure quite how to spell her name, the people of East Longmeadow were confident in their knowledge that Deirdre Mailloux is a viable candidate for School Committee.

Despite her name being misspelled in the press, on her campaign signs and on the ballot, Mailloux walked away the top vote getter in the March 13 preliminary election as she and Angela Thorpe scored upset victories over incumbent Joseph Cabrera.

"I am just speechless right now," Mailloux said. "I'm really thrilled. I feel like it's a victory for everyone in this town who was looking for a change."

Mailloux garnered 503 votes, while Thorpe tallied 367 supporters, beating Cabrera by 12 votes. Susan DeGrave received 280 votes, while Robert Richardson got 226 votes. There were 256 blanks and 13 write-ins.

"I didn't know what to expect. I really felt that it was really tough when you have five people running. It dilutes the vote and it can go in any direction," Mailloux said.

Thorpe said she was pleased with her victory, but was not going to rest on her laurels.

"I'm excited. I'm ready to get to work on the next leg. There's a lot of work to be done for the people of East Longmeadow," she said.

Thorpe added that the five-candidate race was an encouraging sign for the town.

"I want to congratulate and thank all of the people who stepped up to the plate to be a candidate," she said. "I don't want them to be discouraged by the outcome because it doesn't at all reflect the good people they are. I hope they will continue to stay active because the more active people we have, the better our town will be."

With the preliminary in the rear view mirror, the School Committee race now focuses on a political newcomer in Mailloux versus an experienced former committee member in Thorpe.

Mailloux, a mother of three children, including two presently in the district, has been active in the schools, but has never held a political position in town. She said she believes that her ability to bring forward fresh ideas has made her an attractive choice.

"Just some new perspectives and energy," Mailloux said of what she brings to the table.

Thorpe served two terms on the school committee before losing out to Richard Freccero and present committee Chair Gregory Thompson last year.

"I hope voters take into consideration my six years of service and my hard work on the local, state and national level," she said.

The preliminary election was the town's first since 2009 when Selectman Paul Federici faced off with James Martin and Ronald Cutler for a seat on the Board of Selectmen. It was the first preliminary to narrow a field in a School Committee race in more than a decade, Town Clerk Thomas Florence said.

A total of 1,000 voters made their way to the polls, representing 9.1 percent of East Longmeadow's 11,049 registered voters. That figure is approximately one third fewer voters than appeared at Birchland Park Middle School for the presidential primary a week before.

"I would think the fact there was a primary affected turnout," Florence said. "Preliminaries don't happen that often and when they do, according to the law, they have to take place four weeks before the Annual Town Election. It just so happens that this year the starts aligned in such a way that it was the week after the presidential primary."

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