Tuesday May 15, 2012

A Lee Selectman won a rematch of a close race three years ago and a veteran town clerk in Dalton easily survived a challenge -- the first in her 26 years in office.

On Monday, Lee Board of Selectmen Chairman David Consolati defeated challenger Richard I. "Dickie" Neales, 616-509, in the annual town election. Three years ago, Consolati edged Neales by three votes -- following a recount -- to capture his first three-year term.

"It was nice to have some breathing room this time," Consolati said. "I think being an incumbent helped as people knew who I was and what I could do for the town."

In the three-way race for two seats on the Lee School Committee, incumbents Dr. Thomas Consolati and Kelley Koperek were nearly 2-1 winners over challenger JoAnn Piacquadio-Sullivan. Consolati was top vote-getter with 798 votes, followed by Koperek with 714 and Piacquadio-Sullivan with 390.

In Dalton, Town Clerk Barbara L. Suriner was a landslide winner over political newcomer John F. Pitha, 553 to 75, in the annual town election. First elected in 1986, Suriner ran unopposed for town clerk, until this spring. Pitha campaigned on the need for change in the clerk’s office, but voters said otherwise at the ballot box.

"I want to thank the residents of Dalton for their continued support," Suriner said. "I had a lot of help on my campaign from wonderful people."

Dalton voters rejected, 295 to 289, a ballot question exempting from Proposition 21Ž2 unspecified spending for several capital expenditures in town.

The Dalton and Lee elections were among the nine local elections held Monday in Berkshire County.

New Marlborough and Sandisfield featured several ballot questions, plus an unexpected Selectmen’s race in New Marlborough. Great Barrington, Sheffield and Hancock each had one contest on their respective ballots, while candidates ran unopposed in Tyringham and West Stockbridge.

New Marlborough voters approved three of the four questions seeking funding for capital expenditures. By a 143-98 vote, they agreed to spending nearly $88,000 for building upgrades in the South Berkshire Regional School District. It was a 159-81 margin of victory for a new $195,000 highway truck and, by a vote of 161-75, voters approved $65,000 for im provements at Town Hall.

The $550,000 new fire truck failed, 122-115, with 26 ballots left blank.

Meanwhile, Board of Selectmen Chairwoman Tara White held off a challenge from write-in candidate Charles Loring, 173-59.

In Sandisfield, voting results were unavailable at press time for on a pair of ballot questions; there were no contested races. The first question sought a Proposition 21Ž2 override of $150,000 for the town’s fiscal 2013 budget. A second question asked voters to exempt $200,000 from the town’s tax levy limit, partial funding for repairs to New Hartford Road, a five-mile stretch extending south from Route 57.

The lone race in Great Barrington saw challenger Sharon M. Gregory win one of two seats on the town’s Finance Committee. Gregory was top vote-getter at 344, with incumbent Walter F. "Buddy" Atwood III a second-place finisher at 248 votes. With 146 votes, incumbent Louis J. "Jim" Stark came in third place in the race for three-year terms.

Sheffield voters returned Betty E. Le Geyt to the library board of trustees for another three-year term. Le Geyt defeated Frances E. Roth, 179-129. In an uncontested race, Rene Wood won re-election to the Board of Selectmen with 222 votes, though there were 43 write-in votes for Ren Garber and five write-in votes for James McGary.

In Hancock, incumbents Patricia "Patty" Bishop and Mark Gaskill were the top two vote-getters in a four-way race for two, three-year terms on the School Committee. Bishop won a fifth term, receiving 76 votes, while Gaskill’s 73 votes gave him a fourth term on the school board. Challengers Jos ephine Nicholson and Carrie Pause finished with 66 and 36 votes, respectively.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.

Megan Foley contributed to this story.