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Waltham city councilor loses seat to 29-year-old challenger

By Jaclyn Reiss
Globe Correspondent / November 13, 2011

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Sarafina “Sally’’ Collura might have lost her bid for reelection to the Waltham City Council in Tuesday’s election, but she says she is ready to step down and carry on.

“There is a life after being an elected official,’’ the at-large councilor said. “I will continue to do my job until the end of the year, and everything goes along.’’

After serving on the City Council for eight years, Collura was ousted by newcomer Joseph William Vizard, a 29-year-old financial analyst, by more than 400 votes Tuesday. Vizard had 3,151 votes while Collura had 2,734, according to unofficial results.

“I’m glad that I won,’’ Vizard said, “and I’m ready to start work as a city councilor. “I wasn’t sure if we were going to be successful going into the elections, because it’s always difficult to run against incumbents, so I was happy with the results.’’

With six at-large City Council seats on the ballot, the other five incumbents retained their positions.

Thomas Stanley, who also is a state representative, was the top vote-getter with 4,363, followed by Diane LeBlanc with 4,141, and Kathleen McMenimen with 3,717. Paul Brasco, who came in fourth, garnered 3,697 votes, and Kenneth Doucette, who placed fifth, received 3,342.

According to the city clerk’s office, 7,719 voters went to the polls Tuesday, or 22 percent of Waltham’s registered voters.

Collura, who said she had originally intended to serve just one or two terms instead of the four that she did, said she still looks forward to helping government committees and welcoming small businesses to the area.

“It gives me a little more time starting January to focus on my business, and see what direction that takes me in,’’ said Collura, who owns the Tea Leaf on Moody Street. “Some people look at public office with the idea that it’s a part-time position, but there are lots of part-time positions that are full-time jobs if you put heart and soul into it, which I did.’’

When asked whether she regrets or would change anything in her past terms as city councilor, she answered with a resounding “no.’’

“I wouldn’t change anything. I think I did all the right things over the past eight and a half years,’’ she said.

Collura said she does not know Vizard well, but that she wishes him luck.

Vizard thanked his friends, family, and supporters for helping him score a council seat against an incumbent.

“I think people were ready for some new candidates, and enough people voted for change in order for a challenger to be successful,’’ Vizard said.

Vizard said he needs to work on getting up to speed on council issues, but looks forward to the tasks that lay ahead.

“We will be wrestling with a tough budget as we have in previous years, and I want to take a hard look at how city government is organized, and consolidate some city departments to make sure we are operating as efficiently as possible,’’ Vizard said.

LeBlanc, an at-large councilor finishing her first term, said she felt honored and grateful to the citizens of Waltham for her reelection, and she looks forward to working with Vizard.

“I have gotten to know Joe Vizard over the last two years - I met Joe when I was campaigning in 2009 - and he is an outstanding young man,’’ LeBlanc said. “He is bright and hardworking. He and I did some campaigning together this time around, and I am just thrilled for him, and I think the citizens of Waltham are very lucky to be getting him.’’

McMenimen, a longtime at-large councilor, also thanked Waltham constituents for her reelection, and said she welcomes Vizard because he seems thoughtful, respectful, and analytical.

“I’m sure it was a little bit of a surprise for Sally; it was a surprise for me,’’ McMenimen said. “Incumbency is very powerful for any of us. I’m surprised she was not returned to the council, but I know that she’s involved in a great many activities throughout the community, and I’m sure she’ll continue to be active and her presence will be felt in the future.’’

Aside from the at-large race, Mayor Jeannette McCarthy was elected to a third term after garnering 6,556 votes. Her opponent, 22-year-old Andrew Wirth, received 787 votes.

Incumbent councilors in wards 5 and 8 will also resume their spots next term. Ward 5 Councilor Gary Marchese collected 542 votes while his opponent, Lillian Santangelo, received 352. Ward 8 Councilor Stephen Rourke had 340 votes, while newcomer George Macary had 221.

School Committee member Margaret Donnelly will continue serving on the board after receiving 3,036 votes, while incumbent Stephen Rando was unseated by two newcomers - John Graceffa, who finished first with 3,948 votes, and Edmund Tarallo, 2,737. Rando got 2,609 votes.