ESSEX — Town voters have returned Lisa O’Donnell to the Board of Selectmen.
O’Donnell, who won her first term on the board in 2010, held off a write-in challenge from Karin Gertsch in the town elections Monday night to win by a count of 337 votes to 262 and earn another three-year term on the board,
O’Donnell, who has also chaired the Town Building Committee and sat on the Long Term Planning Committee for the past four years, had especially run on the premise of moving forward with the selectmen’s current course in handling the town’s properties at Conomo Point, while Gertsch — who said she had planned to get signatures to run on the ballot, but did not make the deadline due to a miscommunication — had proposed that the northern portion of the Point be cleared for a town waterfront park.
The selectmen’s race was the only contested for the election, which drew 618 voters to the Essex Memorial Fire Station Monday. That’s a turnout of 24 percent of the town’s approximately 2,500 registered voters.
Among other races, Jason Heath won unopposed re-election to his four-year seat on the Planning Board, while Corey Jackson racked up 114 votes to win the five-year Planning Board seat.
Others who were re-elected unopposed included James Haskell to a seat in the Manchester Essex Regional School Committee, Kurt A. Wilhelm to the Board of Assessors, Rolf Madsen as moderate, Martha Mazzarino to the Board of Health, Robert Bradley as town constable, Beth Cairns to the Board of Health, and Harold Addison to the Housing Authority.
O’Donnell held her sign high Monday on Martin Street, across from the polling center at the Memorial Fire Station, but could not be reached for comment on her victory Tuesday.
O’Donnell previously told the Times issues such as dredging the Essex River will come up again at future town meetings.
The motion to dredge the river was shot down at the Annual Town Meeting last week. The Board of Selectmen also withdrew requests for building design plans for a new public safety facility, which has been eyed by officials on John Wise Avenue.
O’Donnell said officials intend to ask for the construction funds and design funds simultaneously, to speed up the process, rather than having plans completed and no money to see the center built. She also noted the poor working conditions in Town Hall as well as the Police Department and fire station building.
The plans for northern Conomo Point call for the town taking control of most, if not all of the land north of Clammer’s Beach. Properties in Conomo Lane may have to be sold in addition to reducing bedrooms or additions to meet the state Department of Environmental Protection mandate to limit wastewater on Conomo Point to 10,000 gallons per day.
O’Donnell, however, said bedroom reduction may mean changing the definition of what constitutes a bedroom, rather than knocking down houses.
One voter said she supported O’Donnell because of the stance on Conomo Point.
“I don’t want to see any houses torn down,” said Christine Macdonald, adding she has friends who live on Conomo Point.
Gertsch — who originally intended to run on the ballot, but missed the deadline due to a miscommunication — was in favor of securing as much of the Conomo Point land as possible for public use. Despite her loss, Gertsch said she plans on running for the board again next year.
She added that, since she ran a write-in campaign, some of her supporters may have been confused about how — and where — to write her name in. She said that, next time, she’s going to make sure to get her name on the ballot.
“We sure as heck gave it all we had this time around,” she said.
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.