GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

May 23, 2013

Changing of the guard in Manchester

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — MANCHESTER — With two new members of the Board of Selectmen, a new town administrator on the way and the ongoing search for a new Department of Public Works director, there is a changing of the guard in Manchester.

Top vote-getter Robert Hoff Jr. and Eli Boling – both political newcomers elected to the Board of Selectmen in Tuesday’s election, earned their seats by besting the only candidate with elective experience in Manchester, Ann Harrison, who served on the town’s Finance Committee and the Manchester Essex Regional School Committee.

“It’s going to be a learning experience for everybody,” Selectmen Tom Kehoe, who has been on the board for nearly eight years, said Wednesday.

Kehoe, as with Boling, recalled that he was a regular attendant of selectmen meetings before being elected.

“It’s different when you’re actually on the board,” Kehoe said.

Boling said one of the issues he intends to address first is helping the town find a new, permanent DPW director. A few other areas of Boling’s interest include aiding capital projects, both long and short term, that have been put off for too long.

“Those were my concerns before being on the board and they will be my concerns on the board,” he said.

Another, would be improving the lines of communication between selectmen, other boards and Manchester residents; whether it be through new Town Administrator Gregory Federspiel or the via the town’s website.

Hoff, who said that one of his prime reasons for running was simply to give voters a choice, said one area that will draw his focus is the mounting unfunded liabilities facing the town. He added he also wants to encourage more volunteerism in the town, noting the various uncontested races on the ballot.

“I would love to see more people to step up as I stepped up,” he said.

Both said there were ups and downs on the campaign trail.

Boling said he found he got substantial amount of feedback from voters in a timely manner.

“Campaigning was probably one of the best experiences of my life,” Hoff said.

Voters cited a push for change and new ideas while at the polls Tuesday — and they got it beyond the Board of Selectmen as well.

While there were a number of uncontested races, those races also brought some new officials.

Julie Kellie Riordan, newly elected to the School Committee along with Shannon Erdmann — said she has no “burning issue” she wants to tackle, just a willingness to serve.

Peter Canney also secured a write-in slot on the Planning Board, were incumbents Carroll Cabbot and Ronald Mastrogiacomo were also re-elected.

Official results confirmed Wednesday showed that 1,154 of the town’s 3,994 registered voters made their way to the polls at Memorial Elementary School.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.