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Clark, Herr sail to unofficial victory in Select Board race; Hopkins project leads in close vote

by | May 20, 2024 | Featured: News, News

Election-Joe Clark

Joe Clark campaigns outside Hopkinton Middle School during Monday’s Annual Town Election. PHOTO/JOHN CARDILLO

Native Hopkintonian Joe Clark and former Select Board chair Brian Herr cruised to unofficial victory in Monday’s Annual Town Election, easily besting contenders Kyla McSweeney and Peter Mimmo for the two open seats on the Select Board in a high-turnout contest.

Clark amassed 1,846 votes, while Herr had 1,810. McSweeney ranked third at 931, and Mimmo was fourth with 864.

Town Clerk Connor Degan noted that hand-counted ballots and write-ins have yet to be tallied, but the margin would seem to be unsurmountable.

The most discussed of the eight ballot questions was Question 3, which asked if residents would support an addition/renovation project at Hopkins Elementary School, designed to help alleviate overcrowding. The vote was 1,354 in favor and 1,243 opposed, so the remaining ballots could prove to be decisive. Two of the five precincts (2 and 3) voted no on that question.

All other ballot questions unofficially passed except Question 5 (improvements to some roads), which was moot because it already was voted down at Town Meeting. It needed approval at both. Question 2 (school HVAC work) also won’t happen, because the schools requested and received a vote for no action at Town Meeting.

In the Select Board race — the only contested race on the ballot — Clark captured three out of five precincts. In Precinct 1, he edged Herr with 237 votes to Herr’s 236. McSweeney and Mimmo, the two Democratic candidates, tallied 115 and 105 votes, respectively.

The margin was wider in Precinct 2, Clark received 401 votes, with Herr getting 381. McSweeney followed with 199, and Mimmo got 160.

Clark led the field in Precinct 3 with 402 votes. Herr followed with 374. McSweeney received 188, while Mimmo trailed with 173.

In Precinct 4, Herr bested Clark 395-388. McSweeney received 204 votes, and Mimmo got 182.

Precinct 5 had the highest voter turnout. Herr edged Clark 419-418. Mimmo came in third with 244, while McSweeney earned 225 votes.

This election showed a shift toward a more independent philosophy and toward two candidates with local town knowledge.

In a phone interview with the Independent shortly after the results were announced, Clark said the town spoke “loudly and clearly” about the type of leadership it wants for Hopkinton. He hopes to move the town away from the polarization that has divided it during a year rife with conflict.

“Obviously I’m super humbled by the support I received today,” he said. “But I am not surprised by it, or the fact that more than two times the number of voters showed up than last year. They really care about the town and its future, and this vote really emphasizes that.”

As for the issues he hopes to address first, Clark noted, “It’s too long a list.”

“Really, with this vote, we have the opportunity to listen to the will of the people,” he explained. “The vote really showed that the town wants some change.”

Clark said he hopes to work with the town and residents to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard, something he said he did not think happened with the previous board. He previously said that the board over the past term had been mired in micromanagement rather than reflecting the will of the voters.

“For me, I see the same issues that a lot of people do,” he said. “The five people elected to the Select Board are here to serve the will of the town. That’s what democracy is about.”

Clark said he was happy that the party designations were removed from this year’s ballot. This may have been a factor that allowed Clark and Herr, both unenrolled in a party, to best their Democrat contenders. During the last election cycle, the Hopkinton Democratic Town Committee was embroiled in scandal during a contentious School Committee race when Darlene Hayes, its chair at that time, was rebuked for her conduct on social media, posting comments against candidate Ashley Fogg under various aliases.

“We need to have a board right now where members can feel free to disagree and still come to an understanding,” Clark said. “It isn’t good when the members all vote the same way all the time.”

Added Clark: “Honestly, the town needs to heal. And it started to with tonight’s vote.”

“It was a really an interesting year for politics in Hopkinton,” said McSweeney in an interview with the Independent just after the unofficial results were made public. “I absolutely learned a lot during this campaign and over the past year.”

McSweeney, who has served on the Cemetery Commission, said she would “possibly” consider a future run.

What impressed her the most during the campaign, she said, was the camaraderie among the four candidates.

“All four of us had great relationships and great discourse,” said McSweeney. “Even today at the polls, all of us were talking. At one point, I said that I wish the four of us could serve on a Select Board together because we had such great chemistry.”

Added McSweeney: “I certainly wish Joe and Brian the best of luck.”

“I’ll simply repeat what I told Joe and Brian,” said Mimmo when asked about Clark and Herr’s resounding win.

“To Joe: Joe, congratulations on your victory,” he continued. “The town has spoken clearly and loudly.”

Mimmo made the same comments to Herr as he welcomed him back to the board.

“I told Brian that, for what it’s worth, as I told Joe, I stand ready to work with you as I complete my term on the Board of Assessors,” he said. “I hope to continue to ease the tax burden on our seniors.”

He added: “Be well, and congratulations.”

Herr did not immediately return messages Monday night, but in a previous interview, he stressed that he would employ “solutions-based management” strategies to tackle issues that have impacted the town over the past year. They include attracting and maintaining Town Hall staff. Another key issues for Herr is confronting “lingering issues” with the Hopkinton Police Department since former Deputy Chief John “Jay” Porter pled not guilty to three counts of child rape last May that allegedly occurred during his stint as a school resource officer two decades before. Former Sgt. Tim Brennan was fired after a contentious hearing for not immediately alerting his superior officers of what he knew about the case, which he explained he did out of his concern for the alleged survivor. The public outcry over Brennan’s firing spurred a petition campaign to recall all five members of the Select Board, although organizers have not obtained enough signatures.

1 Comment

  1. Sam

    I’d like to commend the voters of Hopkinton on voting for balance and objectivity. The reset was sorely needed. Sanity prevailed……

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