BELLOWS FALLS -- The village has a new president. And her name is Nancy Switzer McAuliffe.
McAuliffe, a native of Bellows Falls, was elected village president on Tuesday, defeating Trustee Andrew Smith with 211 votes. One of six winners from the contested races of village-wide election, McAuliffe ran on a platform of improving the relationship between the trustees and the Rockingham Selectboard and returning industry to Bellows Falls. She was not at the Masonic Temple on Westminster Street for comment when the results were announced shortly after 7 p.m.
Smith accumulated 197 votes.
Trustee Stefan Golec and newcomer Sanford "Sandy" Martin garnered 193 and 179 votes, respectively, to win two-year seats on the Bellows Falls Village Board of Trustees and Pat Fowler, Tim Powers and Michael "Mickey" Tolaro were re-elected as village auditors.
Golec told the Reformer last week he wants to focus his newest term as village trustee on attracting new businesses into Bellows Falls and formulating ways to encourage existing companies to stay and hire more local workers. A veteran of elected municipal office, he also wants to fight to reopen the Vilas Bridge and support the Green Island Project, an attempt by the Sustainable Valley Group to revitalize The Island and bring in green businesses.
Martin moved to Bellows Falls with his wife, a village native, in 2004. He told the Reformer it is time to help out the community that so generously opened its doors to him a decade ago.
"The people in the village have been very, very good to us and I really feel like it's time to give back a bit," he said. "I would really like to be involved in getting more people to Village Meeting [about 65 people showed up Monday] and to the trustees' meetings."
Former Trustee Deborah Wright ran for both a trustee position and an auditor spot but lost both elections, with 53 and 78 votes, respectively.
Kathryn "Kate" Aldrich collected 166 votes, while Evelyn Weeks got 177.
Citizens also voted 188-101 in favor of a $6 million bond for improvements to the village's wastewater system, though the vote will not count. State law requires notification of a bond vote to appear in the newspaper of record on the same day for three straight weeks, but The Shopper failed to print the notice in its May 1 edition. Municipal Manager Willis D. "Chip" Stearns II has told the Reformer the bond vote will now have to wait until the primary election in August or the general election in November. He also mentioned this hiccup should not affect the wastewater project.
Stearns said someone from The Shopper came to his office to apologize for the mistake.
Total voter turnout was, unofficially, listed at 416 out of 1,822 on the checklist.
During the day, resident Brian Story said he makes it a point to vote in each local election because that is where his vote is most likely to make a difference -- as opposed to most presidential or senatorial elections. He said the decision over whether to renovate Bellows Falls Middle School or construct a new building, and how much to spend, was decided by fewer than five votes just two or three years ago.
"And that's the one local election I haven't made it to," he said with a laugh.
Resident Steve James said he has lived in Bellows Falls for about 40 years and considers it a privilege to have so many chances to vote. He feels the right to vote is taken for granted in many places.
"I feel it's my obligation and I love my community," he said.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.