By James Niedzinski
---- — MANCHESTER — Two first-time political candidates — Robert Hoff, Jr., and Eli Boling — earned seats on Manchester’s Board of Selectmen last night, beating out veteran School Committee member Ann Harrison to take the slots vacated by current board members Susan Thorne and Mary Hardwick.
Hoff, who said during a debate last Friday morning that he jumped into the race to ensure there was a contest for the two seats, emerged as the top vote-getter with 701, while Boling captured the other seat with 614 votes to beat out Harrison’s 576, according to preliminary results.
In all, 1,153 of the town’s estimated 3,993 voters went to the polls for a turnout of roughly 29 percent. The town’s voters also gave their emphatic approval to two questions calling for a debt exclusion Proposition 21/2 override to acquire and then cleanup the sole remaining Pine Street property that rests atop a former town burn dump.
Hoff, of Mark Street, works as a marketing consultant, volunteers on the Manchester Essex DECA team as a chaperone as well as a substitute teacher.
”I like Mr. Hoff,” said voter Susan Shuwall. “He’ll balance out the board.”
Boling, a Pleasant Street resident, has served on an emergency dispatch ad-hoc committee and works as a software engineer. Boling also had the endorsement of Thorne, whom, in a letter to the Times last Friday, cited his commitment to the town and his regular attendance of selectmen’s meetings in advance of his run for a seat.
Voters poured into the Manchester Memorial School to show their support for their candidates Tuesday, and — despite the debt exclusion questions, which affect taxpayers’ pocketbooks, the Board of Selectmen race is what brought out voters Tuesday. Several other candidates won or retained seats, but were unopposed.
”We need new energy, ideas and comment sense,” said voter Sue Henderson.
Mike Opal, a 41-year-old Rockwood Heights Road resident, said he voted for Boling and Hoff.
”They just seem like they are running for the right reasons,” he said. “Especially Eli.”
On the referendum questions, the first — passed by a count of 752 to 237 — asked voters to allocate $1,731,000 in bonds to pay for engineering, design capping and closure of the former Pine Street burn dump site. The second question — approved by a vote of 629 to 322 — officially exempts the town from Proposition 21/2 for the debt exclusion.
In the unopposed races:
Newcomer Shannon Erdmann was elected to a two year term on the School Committee.
Julie Kellie Riordan and incumbent Linda Crosby were both elected to three year terms on the regional committee.
The other seats on the ballot were all won by incumbents, as of press time votes were still being counted for a write in candidate on the Planning Board.
”I’m just fulfilling my civic duty,” said voter 67-year-old Cliff Gratz.
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.