Highway surveyor to be appointed; Pacheco, Duarte take Westport school seats

The next Westport highway surveyor will be appointed by the Board of Selectmen, not chosen by voters as has long been the practice. That was the close decision by voters in last Tuesday's election. By a margin of 665 to 611, voters opted to go with an appointed head of the Highway Department going forward. That will next happen when incumbent Harold "Jack" Sisson's term expires. He is currently awaiting trial on charges of larceny, conspiracy and receiving stolen property in connection with the alleged theft of town highway equipment. The question, which was supported by the Board of Selectmen, was placed on the ballot by voters at a winter special town meeting who agreed to do so by more than the two-thirds margin needed. This latest vote needed only a simple majority. In other election action Tuesday, voters elected Melissa Pacheco to fill a vacant  School Committee seat previously held by Eric Larivee who did not run. She received 908 votes, the most of the three candidates. Incumbent Chairwoman Michelle Duarte finished second with 832 votes and retains a seat. Nancy Rioux took third place with 760 votes. "The election journey has been both rewarding and inspiring," Ms. Pacheco wrote. "Now that the election is over, I will be able to join those on the School Committee as we work hard to provide the best education to our children. I sincerely hope that you will reach out to me and continue the dialog that we have begun."
In the other contested race, that for Westport Public Library board of trustees, incumbents Robert J. Gormley (851 votes) and Sharon Hanover ((685 votes) both retained their seats. Challenger Andrew Gaboury was third with 551 votes and did not win a seat.
Other races were uncontested. Board of Selectmen Chairman Richard Spirlet scored 1,023 votes (versus 127 write-in votes, 71 of them to Tim Gillespie), and David Cole won a three-year term seat on the Planning Board. Town Moderator Steven Fors received more votes than any candidate election-wide and returns for another term, along with Board of Health member Sean Leach, Assessor Stephen Medeiros and Landing Commissioner Maxwell Turner. Some seats had no declared candidates but were filled by write-in contenders. The five-year seat on the Planning Board went to write-in candidate Wayne Sunderland whose 103 votes beat write-in candidate Michael Sullivan (48 votes). David Bates is a fish commissioner thanks to lopsided write-in result — 116 to 8 over Gary Cambra. Denise Leonardo won 16 votes for a Housing Authority seat, plenty to beat competitors Chris Mignone and Lois Spirlet. Sean Dooley took a commissioner of trust seat with  31 write-in votes. A total of 1,560 voters, not quite 14 percent of the 11,314 eligible, turned out for the election.


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