Rochester to see five contested races

Apr 11, 2023

ROCHESTER— Rochester will see five contested races on the ballot in the May 24 town election. 

There are contested races for  Select Board, Rochester School Committee, Old Rochester Regional School Committee, the Public Library Board of Trustees and the Planning Board.

Incumbent Woody Hartley has been on the Select Board for six years and is running to maintain his seat against three-time Select Board candidate Adam Murphy. 

“I do this job because I really do enjoy it,” said Hartley. “There are times where difficult decisions have to be made, but I don't mind making those difficult decisions.”

“I want to bring a new insight to the board and set new goals,” said Murphy, who works as the deputy harbormaster in Marion. “Some pretty big decisions have been made that I don’t feel have been the best decisions for the community.”

Four candidates are running to fill two spots on the Rochester School Committee. Incumbents Katherine Duggan and Anne Fernandes are running for reelection against  newcomers Gregory Hardy and Sydney Teixeira. 

Duggan has been on the Rochester School Committee since 2020. 

“I bring my perspective as a parent and my enthusiasm for learning to this role,” she said.

Fernandes has been active in the public school system for 20 years and has enjoyed it “very much.”

“I enjoy the educational side of it and also the fact that things are changing a bit, and I like to keep abreast of the areas of change that are occurring,” said Fernandes. 

Hardy said that he hopes to l use his experience as a youth coach to encourage students.

“If elected I would help bring effective communication between the community and the school,” said Hardy. 

Teixeira wants to bring a new perspective to the committee by being “the only Gen Z candidate.”

“I decided to run for the Rochester Memorial School Committee because I think it is extremely important that all students know and feel a sense of belonging both in their school and their community,” Teixeira said.

Two candidates are running for one spot on the Old Rochester Regional School Committee. Incumbent Joseph Pires is running against newcomer James O’Brien.

Pires won a write-in campaign for a vacant seat on the Old Rochester Regional School Committee in 2017 and was reelected in 2020. He did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

O’Brien said that he has previously served on the Old Rochester School Committee for nine years and has 35 years of experience in education.

“I want to work as a conduit between the administration faculty, staff and parents in the community and work on policy and procedures,” said O’Brien. 

According to information provided by the Town Clerk, new candidate David Sylvia is running for “school committee” but election documents did not specify which committee. Sylvia and Dawson did not respond to requests for comment and clarification. 

Three community members are running to fill Rhonda Reints spot on the Board of Library Trustees including Jane Taylor, Sarah Verbyla and Heather Alford. Reints is not running for reelection.

As a “beneficiary of the many of the resources the Library has offered” Taylor said she hopes to “give back” to the library by filling the position.

A 50-year resident of Rochester, Taylor said that living in town has given her “ a perspective of its growth and development over time.”

As a Rochester Memorial School PTO member and avid user of the library, Alford hopes to bring new programs to the library.

“I think we could definitely branch out and bring some events that our library hasn't had before,” Alford said.

Verbyla did not respond to requests for comment.

Three candidates are running for two spots on the Planning Board. Newcomer Dennis McCarthy is running for a seat on the board held by incumbents Ben Bailey and John DeMaggio.

Bailey is running for his fourth term on the board. 

“There's a real value to having people on the planning board who have been there for a long time,” said Bailey. 

DeMaggio is running for his third term on the board.

“I think we got a great team of people on the board that really worked well together,” DeMaggio said. 

McCarthy did not respond to requests for comment. 

Uncontested races include positions as water commissioner, herring inspector, tax collector, assessor and Board of Health member. 

Frederick Underhill has served as water commissioner since 2012 and hopes to work on the town’s ongoing water issues with the coming term.

“I felt that I have the  background and the history on a lot of what is  going on,” said Underhill. 

Herring inspector William David Watling served as Assistant Inspector under his father and was appointed as Herring Inspector after his father passed. He has run for election ever since. According to Watling, he has never had an opponent. 

“It feels like an accomplishment to help nature along,” said Watling, referring to why he decided to run for the position again.

Beatrice Renauld has enjoyed serving as tax collector for 12 years.

“It's been good, people in town are very personable and as long as you treat everybody the same,they don't have any issues,” said Renauld. 

Assessor Suzanne Szydlar previously served for nine years before being appointed as assessor in July 2022.

“I decided to run for election because I very much enjoyed being an assessor in prior years and now I feel that my experience and accomplishments in municipal government can provide value to the assessing department,” said Szydlar. 

Dale Barrows has served on the Rochester Board of Health for 26 years.

Barrows hopes to work with the town on the state’s proposed changes to Title V septic regulation which could affect home septic systems. 

“It's something that is going to have a big impact on people in Rochester if it isn’t changed,” said Barrows.

Majorie Barrows is running unopposed for a position as Town Clerk . According to Marjorie, there is an article on the town warrant that if approved will change the position from elected to appointed. Despite this, she is excited to run. 

“I can learn anything and I won't have a shortage of resources to learn from,” she said.