Murphy beats Hartley, other seats held by incumbents in Rochester election

May 24, 2023

ROCHESTER — Voters in Rochester favored incumbents for all but one contested seat in the annual town election on Wednesday, May 24.

Longtime Select Board member Woody Hartley was unseated by challenger Adam Murphy, who took home 845 votes to Hartley’s 673.

“I’ve been pretty loud and proud about my beliefs in town and I’m going to continue with the same message and that’s open communication with everybody,” said Murphy.

Hartley, who has served on the Rochester Select Board for six years, said that he would like to “thank my family and my friends for all their support for my entire life … I want to thank the townspeople, the employees of town hall and the whole town for their support … I want to wish the winner the best of luck.”

In the contested race for two Rochester School Committee seats, voters put their weight behind incumbents Kate Duggan, who took home 805 votes, and Anne Fernandes who had 733 votes.

“I’m happy that the campaigning is coming to an end, I can get some of my life back,” said Duggan. “[There are] definitely some mixed emotions on the outcomes … but I’m looking forward to getting out there and doing the work — there’s a meeting next week.”

Fernandes, who will be entering her third term, said that she would like to “thank the people who supported me.” She added that this election was her “swan song” and she will not be seeking a fourth term.

Challengers Greg Hardy, who had 693 votes, and Sydney Teixeira, who had 691 votes, did not win seats.

“This was an amazing opportunity. It was a pleasure running at such a young age, I learned so much from so many amazing people,” said Teixeira, who added that she would “likely” run for election again in the future.

“I’ve got plenty of time … this is my first time so I’m not too hard on myself … I’m learning the process,” she said.

In the race for one seat on the Old Rochester School Committee, incumbent Joe Pires retained his seat with 791 votes, beating out challenger James O’Brien who had 728 votes.

“Residents of Rochester came and voted and spoke out and they are concerned about the safety and wellbeing of all of our students,” said Pires. “They listened to what we were saying collectively and how it’s important to put all kids first … the work is about to begin, we have a lot to do to continue on this path forward.”

O’Brien thanked his supporters, friends and family. He added that he wishes “the regional school committee the best and I hope and pray that they can all get on the same page with most of the issues … and come up with what’s best for the kids.”

In the race for two seats on the Rochester Planning Board, incumbents Ben Bailey and John DeMaggio took home 809 and 935 votes respectively. Challenger Dennis McCarthy did not win with 632 votes.

“I’m surprised and I’m happy — another five years on the planning board,” said Bailey. “I’ll continue to be the liaison between the Planning Board and the [Rochester] Conservation Commission and bring 15 years worth of experience to the board.”

Jane Taylor and Heather Alford won both seats on the Rochester Board of Library Trustees with 983 and 664 votes respectively. Sarah Verbyla, who also ran for the board, had 441 votes.

“It was a first time experience for me — a great experience — and I’m delighted that the community put their confidence behind me,” said Taylor.

Other races in the Rochester election were uncontested.

Beatrice Renauld won reelection to the Tax Collector seat with 1,237 votes.

Dale Barrows, who has served on the Rochester Board of Health for 26 years, won reelection with 1,182 votes.

Tax Assessor Suzanne Szydlar won reelection with 1,163 votes.

David Sylvia won reelection to the Rochester Parks Commission with 1,203 votes.

William Watling retained his long-held seat as Rochester Herring Inspector with 1,251 votes.

Frederick Underhill retained his seat on the Rochester Water Commission with 1,236 votes.

One open seat for Rochester Cemetery Commission had no declared candidates but received 217 write-in votes. The results were not immediately available.

Finally, Marjorie Barrows, the only declared candidate for Rochester Town Clerk took home 990 votes. Write-in candidates, including Jennifer Gerrior, received 299 votes. It is unknown how many votes Gerrior received as of press time.

The final item on the ballot was a question that asked voters to make the position of Rochester Town Clerk appointed rather than elected. At Rochester’s Town Meeting on Monday, May 22, voters decided against this measure.

Still, the question received 401 “yes” votes and 895 “no” votes.

According to Rochester Town Clerk Paul Dawson there was a high voter turnout at this election with 1,557 voters going to the polls which represents approximately 33.7%  of all Rochester voters.

“That’s a lot for a town election,” said Dawson. “There’s a lot of contested offices so I’m not too surprised … contested Select Board and contested School Committee and that always generates interest.”