McAuliffe, Golec, Wright win reelection in Bellows Falls

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BELLOWS FALLS — Incumbents carried the day Tuesday during the annual village elections.

Trustees Stefan Golec and James McAuliffe both won re-election to their seats in a four-way race for the two seats, and Village President Deborah Wright was reelected without opposition. Golec and McAuliffe were one vote apart in the final tally, with McAuliffe receiving 126 votes and Golec 125.

Challengers Colin James, himself a former trustee, and James Mitchell were far behind. James had 80 votes and Mitchell, a longtime Bellows Falls blogger and government gadfly, only received 29 votes.

Golec, 51, first ran for office in his hometown when he was 18 years old, he said Tuesday night, after the voting results were delivered by Bellows Falls Police Chief Ron Lake at a Rockingham Select Board meeting.

Peter Golec, chairman of the Rockingham Select Board, made the announcement live on FACTV, the public access channel. The two Golecs are cousins.

Stefan Golec said his first position was as constable, and then he ran for Rockingham lister, and eventually he ran for Bellows Falls village trustee. "I've been a trustee for 23 or 24 years, I'm not sure," he said. He said he was first appointed to the Rockingham Select Board in 2005.

Golec said he spent Tuesday outside the Masonic Temple, talking to voters. He said the most popular topics were the village's water and sewer rates, as well as property taxes, and the Bellows Falls Police Department. He said there was also talk about the fire department, but voters were overall pleased with the job they do. "Oh, and the conditions of streets in the village," he said.

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Golec was almost bumped from the board last year by a tiny margin, but he ended up getting appointed to the board to fill the position of Deborah Wright, who had run successfully for village president. Golec is also a Rockingham Select Board member, a dual position that irks McAuliffe, who feels it is an inherent conflict

of interest.

McAuliffe, since returning to his hometown after retirement, has been very involved with both the Rockingham and Bellows Falls Union High School boards, although he stepped down a couple of years ago and ran for trustee.

Wright ran unopposed for the village president's position, which is a one-year position. She received 134 votes.

A total of 206 voters went to the polls on Tuesday during the all-day balloting at the Masonic Temple.

There are 2,008 registered voters in the village, acting Village Clerk Kathleen Neathawk said.

The issue of voter turnout has long been raised during the Bellows Falls village meeting, where in the past few years about 60 people would turn out for the floor meeting in which the budget and other money issues are decided. Critics say the floor meeting is too influenced by special interests. But voters turned down a move toward Australian balloting on the budget by a 36-22 tally on Monday night, with village residents saying they liked being able to debate, discuss and amend the village budget during an open meeting.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.


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