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Rockwood will have opponent, and other election news

January 27, 2014

Town Moderator Jon Rockwood will likely have an opponent in the June town election, and it would be a strong, well-funded contender who could give Rockwood a run for his money.

A candidate who is well-versed in local issues, has strong connections to local politicians, and already has a large base of support is currently preparing to challenge Rockwood. The name of that candidate is under a news embargo until nomination papers become available in early February. Other candidates may enter the race as well, but the Moderator’s race usually attracts few candidates, so it will likely be only a two-person race.

Rockwood’s last opponent was John O’Leary, in 2011, who ran a relatively weak campaign. The last incumbent Moderator to be defeated was Stephen Sullivan, who lost in 1996 to Jim Brady.

Meanwhile, Selectman Mark Gallivan may face an opponent in his quest for re-election this year from ZBA member and former state rep. candidate Jim Stanton. Rumors have been circulating for awhile that Stanton is considering taking on Gallivan, and Stanton told 180 last week that he has not specifically closed the door on it.

Gallivan, who is seen as relatively popular and uncontroversial, has managed to fend off other major challengers. Several high-profile candidates, including Christopher Donovan, Russell Jones, David Sullivan, and some well-known Town Meeting Reps. who had indicated they were taking a serious look at the race, have told 180 that they will sit out this election. Many of those candidates are instead looking ahead to 2015, when both Selectmen Chris Timson and Nancy Mackenzie are expected to step down from the Board and leave behind open seats.

If he does indeed run, Stanton would start his campaign against Gallivan with significant name recognition and a campaign network already in place. During his campaigns against Democratic State Rep. John Rogers in 2010 and 2012, Stanton ran and won by significant margins in half of Walpole’s eight precincts. The other four precincts are not in the same legislative district.

Stanton also has more than $3,000 in left over funds from those two campaigns, according to his year-end 2013 report filed with the OCPF. Under state law, Stanton could transfer all or part of that war chest for use in a municipal campaign if he wanted to.

School Committee member Allan Cameron has announced that he will step down from the School Committee this year, leaving behind an open seat. Susan Flynn Curtis, currently serving her second term on the School Committee, is also up for re-election but has not yet made it clear whether she plans to run again. So far, no candidates have emerged for either of those seats. Christine Coury, who ran for that board in 2011 and 2012, has moved out of town.

On the Sewer and Water Commission, Roger Turner and James P. Taylor are up for re-election. Taylor has said he plans to run again, while Turner remains undecided, but is leaning toward running again. Sullivan and Jones have both said they are taking a look at running for that board.

In the Library Trustees campaign, incumbent Bob Damish will face the voters for the first time since being appointed by Selectmen and the Trustees in September to fill the vacancy caused by Deborah Burke’s resignation. David Wildnauer is also up for re-election and is likely to run again.

There are not expected to be any overrides on this year’s election ballot, which could result in low turnout, like last year.

There have been no formal announcements yet by any candidates seeking Town Meeting seats.

A Precinct 6 RTM has been circulating a petition to put a non-binding ballot referendum on the June election ballot, but the information about that petition is under a news embargo until the necessary number of signatures has been obtained to require Selectmen to put it on the ballot. That referendum, if it makes it on to the ballot, has the potential to be very divisive. It remains unclear if the petition will get the sufficient number of signatures.

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