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And then there were three…

April 17, 2013

Only three candidates passed in nomination papers to run for Walpole Selectmen by yesterday’s deadline, meaning this year’s race for the town’s top board will be an epic rumble against one young current Selectman and two retired former Selectmen and political veterans.

Incumbent Selectman Michael Berry, former Selectman Cliff Snuffer II, and former Selectman Bill Hamilton all turned in nomination papers. They will vie for two seats on the Board.

Selectman Eric Kraus, who along with Berry was up for re-election this year, announced in an emailed statement to 180 yesterday morning that he decided not to seek another term on the Board, citing “family and work-related commitments.” Kraus had taken out nomination papers to run again several weeks ago, but remained undecided up until yesterday as to whether he would turn them in with signatures. His indecision had kept other potential candidates at bay, as many people were unwilling to run against him.

Snuffer, Berry, and Hamilton are each seen as moderate-to-conservative in political ideology, although Berry has disappointed some fiscal conservatives with his support of last year’s override and unwillingness to question certain town spending measures. With no override on the ballot, and only three Selectman candidates who occupy a similar area of the political spectrum, the town election on June 1 is expected to have low turnout.

In the race for School Committee, all three incumbents up for re-election, Michael Ryan, Nancy Gallivan, and Mark Breen turned in nomination papers to run again. A fourth candidate, John C. Sheehan, also turned in nomination papers. Sheehan ran unsuccessfully for School Committee last year.

Meanwhile, in the race to replace departing Walpole Sewer & Water Commissioner Kevin Muti, only two candidates – both fiscal conservatives – returned nomination papers by yesterday’s deadline. Former Town Meeting Rep. Tom Brown, of Granite Street will run against former Animal Control Officer and Sewer & Water Commissioner John Spillane. Muti is the only member of the Sewer & Water Commission who is up for re-election this year.

Multiple incumbent Town Meeting Representatives will not run again this year, leaving several open seats across all eight precincts in the 150-member body. A number of fiscally conservative challengers appear to be shoo-ins to pick up many of those open seats, with no competition except for potential write-in challengers.

The deadline to take out nomination papers to run for RTM was Apr. 12, but incumbents had until Apr. 8 to notify the Town Clerk they intended to seek another term.

In Precinct 1, Eric Hurwitz, the founder and webmaster of the popular website VisitingNewEngland.com, is the only candidate vying for the open one-year term in that precinct. Unless a viable write-in challenger emerges, Hurwitz won’t have to campaign at all.

In Precinct 2, Snuffer can likely breathe easier, because he faces only competition from write-ins in his bid for an RTM seat in Walpole’s most liberal precinct. Snuffer moved from Precinct 6 within the last year, and has to re-run from his new precinct. Incumbent RTMs Jim Egan and Peter Nowak in Precinct 2 will not run again. Snuffer is expected to take one of those seats, while a write-in candidate would have to emerge to take the other open seat.

In Precinct 4, fiscal conservatives Christopher Donovan, Sean M. Ford, and this blogger are all shoo-ins to grab three of four five open seats. Incumbent Town Meeting Reps. Mary Abplanalp, Matthew Fearnley, John Morris, and Lynn Rowan will not run again. There are no other challengers, meaning there are only five candidates for seven three-year terms.

There are also a few open seats in Precincts 1 and 3 that are being contested only by fiscal conservatives. Assessor Jack Fisher is the only candidate vying for the open two-year RTM seat in Precinct 3. Gerry Lane, Jr. is the only candidate vying for the Precinct 8 RTM seat left vacant by Ralph Knobel’s death earlier this year.

Fiscal conservative Jim Pellegrine, the Walpole Council on Aging Treasurer, is the only candidate seeking one of the two new RTM seats in Precinct 5 that was recently created because of apportionment of the prison population in Precinct 5. There is another seat in Precinct 5 that is available to a write-in.

Other notable candidates for RTM include Paul McDonough and Daniel Ryan in Precinct 1, Rob Luce in Precinct 8, and Russell Jones and Robert O’Leary in Precinct 3.

Stay tuned to 180 this election season for our exclusive, unparalleled coverage.

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