YARMOUTH — In stark contrast to a year ago, when local elections were uncontested – and in some cases, without any candidates on the ballot – 13 candidates are competing for seven seats this year on the Town Council, School Committee and Water District Board of Trustees.
Three council seats, two School Committee seats and two Water District seats, all for three-year terms, are on the ballot and all races are contested.
Town Clerk Jennifer Doten attributed the surge in participation to a full-page advertisement in The Forecaster by Councilor Steve Woods, who urged residents to take more responsibility and play more active roles in local government.
“It is a bizarre shift in involvement,” she said. “I think (Woods) provided people with a lot of in your face facts and stirred the pot. Maybe now they are realizing it is time to get involved.”
She said she could not remember the last time so many residents took out and returned nomination papers.
“It is exciting to have six people running for three seats,” she said. “It will be interesting to see the outcome.”
The council seats are held by Chairman Jeff Darrell, Vice Chairman Tom Renehan and Councilor Bill Schaffer. Darrell reached his term limit and cannot run again; Renehan is eligible to run again, but did not take out nomination papers, and Schaffer served one term and returned nomination papers to seek re-election.
He is challenged by Mark Hough, Randy Bates, Leslie Hyde, Andrew Kittredge and James Macleod.
Hough, of Bayview Street, is a former councilor who reached his term limit last year. Bates, a resident of Tannery Lane, is a Planning Board member who ran a write-in campaign against Councilor Tim Sanders in June 2010 and lost by 27 votes.
Hyde lives on Pleasant Street, Kittredge is a North Road resident and Macleod lives on Berryfield Road.
In the election to fill two seats on the School Board, three residents returned nomination papers by the May 2 deadline. Current members Judiann Smith and Kent Pierce are eligible to run again, but only Smith returned nomination papers.
Residents John Philip Jones of East Elm Street and Margaret Groban of Starboard Reach are Smith’s challengers.
Four residents returned nomination papers for two seats on the Water District Board of Trustees.
The seats are held by Charlie Sawyer and Irv Felker, but only Felker returned papers to serve again. In addition, William Stees of Sligo Road, Susan Bogel Krauss of East Main Street and Andy O’Brien of West Main Street returned papers.
The annual Town Meeting will be held on June 7 at the Harrison Middle School at 7 p.m. to ratify the proposed school and municipal budgets.
Then, on June 14 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the AMVETS, 148 North Road, voters will elect municipal officers and validate the school budget.