ESSEX — Voters approved separate debt-exclusion overrides for a new ladder truck and renovations to Town Hall while returning an unopposed lineup of incumbents to office in Essex's annual election Monday.
Residents approved a $600,000 debt-exclusion override for Town Hall repairs, an $190,000 override to replace the Fire Department's worn-out aerial ladder truck. The Town Hall repairs, officials have said, will make the building more habitable for workers. Aside from the overrides, residents elected people to every open seat except one on the Planning Board — a seat that no one sought.
In all, 468 residents took to the polls Monday, said Town Clerk Christina Wright. That represents just 20 percent of Essex's 2,253 registered voters, but the turnout is up from last year's just more than 200, Wright said, who added a comparison is hard to make.
"It's hard to say with three override questions," Wright said. "That tends to drive traffic a little bit."
Voters who cast ballots throughout the day at Memorial Fire Station on Martin Street approved the Town Hall override by a count of 284-175, while the fire engine override gained passage by 287-174.
A debt-exclusion override allows a municipality to raise the levy beyond Proposition 21/2 limits for one-time expenses, with the tax levy returning to its pervious level once the costs are paid.
Residents returned incumbent Selectmen Chairman Jeff Jones to his seat with 299 votes — though residents also cast 160 blanks in that race.
Residents also elected James Haskell to the School Committee with 356 votes, Richard Carins to the Board of Assessors with 371 votes, and Jennifer Mayer as library trustee with 350 votes.
Voters elected Beth Carins to serve on the Housing Authority with a vote of 377, and Marlene Sanders to the Board of Health with 340.
Voters, however, also reiterated a Town Meeting vote to shot down a third override question that asked permission to purchase the Lahey Clinic building on Martin Street. Town Meeting had previously voted that question down; it failed in Monday's referendum by a count of 319-132.
Seats that were empty going into the election were filled. Voters returned Rolf Madsen to the moderator's office with 74 write-in votes, while Kathleen Quill was elected to the Manchester Essex Regional School Committee with 41 write-in votes and Robert P. Bradley to one of two open constable positions with 31 write-in votes.
The second constable slot remains empty. Town bylaws require that a candidate receive at least 20 write-in votes to be elected.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.