MANCHESTER — Manchester voters not only returned two-term incumbent Tom Kehoe to the Board of Selectmen in a narrow decision Tuesday night, but returned Kurt Melden and Rebecca Jacques to the Planning Board as well.
Kehoe edged out challenger and former Harbor Advisory Committee chairman Karen Smith-Crawley by a margin of less than 1 percentage point. Kehoe won the seat by 26 votes, 620 to Crawley's 594. The 1,221 residents who voted in the town's annual election on Tuesday accounted for 31.9 percent of Manchester's 3,823 registered voters.
"It was a very tough campaign," Kehoe said, "Karen (Smith-Crawley) made us work hard for every vote."
He said he looks forward to serving the town for another two years — a term, that would begin with a running start. The Selectmen, Kehoe said, will have to look for a new fire chief as current Chief Andrew Paskalis is retiring. He also said that Town Administrator Wayne Melville is planning to retire as well, and the board will have a search moving when he does.
The board, he said, would like to have the chief search done by the end of the summer.
Crawley could not be reached for comment last night and left immediately after the vote totals were announced.
Supporter Ron Morin said Crawley would have brought cause-and-effect sense to the Selectmen. Morin served with Crawley on the Harbor Advisory Committee and said she ran that committee with a level head.
"This Board of Selectmen has their work cut out for them," Morin said.
Voters also returned Melden and Jacques to the Planning Board ahead of challenger Ralph Smith. Jacques received 748 votes, Melden 541 and Smith 432 votes.
For more on this story, look to tomorrow's print and online editions of the Gloucester Daily Times and gloucestertimes.com.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.