DALTON — A relatively young Pittsfield Police detective has ousted longtime Select Board member John F. Boyle.
Marc Strout, 45, received 555 votes to Boyle's 421, nabbing a second open seat on the Select Board in a four-man race in Dalton's annual town elections on Monday. Incumbent Selectman John Bartels Jr. was the day's top vote-getter, retaining his seat with 594 ballots cast in his favor.
Receiving 242 votes was the fourth Select Board candidate, Margaret Cahill.
In the run up to the election, Strout crafted a message to voters emphasizing transparency and citizen access to government. The former board, Strout said, had failed to keep residents informed of town decisions and how to make their voices heard on the issues.
In an interview Tuesday, Strout said he planned to live up to the rhetoric.
"Reach out to me, come to me with stuff," Strout said. "I'm accessible and I think people are going to appreciate that. People wanted their voices heard and [at the election] they made it happen."
He added, "The town needs to do a better job pushing social media, its website and other avenues to get information to the public. People are busy with families and jobs and it needs to be accessible."
Working with and implementing initiatives from Grow Dalton, a new town committee comprised of business and other community leaders, will make up a core component of Strout's policy advocacy on the board, he said.
Boyle, who was running for a fourth term and served another three terms in the '80s on the board, said of the election: "Politics is a tough game."
"I think I'm going to concentrate on mowing my lawn for a while," Boyle joked. "I hope the board continues its good works on the major issues confronting the town, in particular, the disposition of the former Dalton High School, and to provide quality services at affordable cost."
Boyle also hoped the board would continue a process he began to get state approval to rename a bridge in Dalton in honor of Army Spc. Mitchell K. Daehling, a 24-year-old Wahconah Regional High School graduate who was killed in action in Afghanistan's Kandahar province in 2013.
For his part, Bartels said he "felt comfortable" in the run up to the election and thanked residents for the showing of support.
"I'm glad I will be able to continue my work with the school as a municipal representative," Bartels said, citing his area of specialty. "It's rewarding, and keeps us in touch with what's going on with the schools. When the budget of the town is 60 percent school costs, it's important to be able to know how it works and where it's going."
The election filled all but one vacancy on town committees and boards, providing write-in candidate Daniel E. Esko decides to take the yearlong seat on the Planning Board to which he was elected. The remaining vacancy is for a five-year term on the Planning Board.
Anyone interested in the position may contact Town Hall at 413-684-6111.
Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.