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Low turnout, big changes from Quincy election

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  November 6, 2013 04:41 PM

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Big changes will come from the turnout of 17 percent of voters during Quincy’s election Tuesday, which had two contested races and three questions on the ballot.

The biggest change may be the lengthening of mayoral terms to four years from two.

The change, pushed by the Quincy Chamber of Commerce, was meant to solidify leadership in a community that's on the precipice of transformation. Though it won’t take effect until the 2015 mayoral election, spokespeople in the current administration say they aren’t concerned.

“The mayor ran for office knowing exactly what he was getting into. There is no real sense of any frustration with the two-year term in terms of what it takes, because it’s frankly what we’ve done,” said Christopher Walker, spokesman for Mayor Thomas Koch.

Although it won’t impact the administration now, Walker said, there was a great deal of validity in having a longer period of time between campaigns, as it allows the administration to focus on matter of governing rather than campaigning.

For Dean Rizzo, president of the Quincy Chamber, the message of longer term limits is more about the stability of government.

“Providing the sitting mayor four years to implement a clear vision for the community creates a more stable and efficient government system providing services and resources,” he said.

The question was approved by voters 7071 in favor to 3339 against.

The election also saw the approval of a Community Preservation Commission provision, which will allow the city to seek higher state input for CPC projects by leveraging more local money. The measure was approved 6161 in favor to 3328 against.

A poll asking for opinions on merging both high schools was rejected by a large majority, with only 3,096 voting in favor of the measure to 6,527 voting against.

Paul Bregoli, who sought the referendum, could not immediately be reached for comment.

In the only contested city council race, Brian Palmucci won by a large margin, taking 1,547 of Ward 4 votes to Michael Healy’s 365.

“I'm overwhelmed by the level of support I received from the voters. I'm thankful for their continued trust, and confidence to keep fighting hard for our neighborhoods,” Palmucci said in an e-mail. “My focus over the next two years will continue to be on addressing our City's flood issues, supporting our public schools, and communicating with residents."

In an unexpected swing of events, election newcomer and Quincy Point Panthers youth football coach Noel DiBona received more votes for a School Committee seat than any other incumbent candidate, taking 6,482 votes.

DiBona wasn’t readily available for comment; however, his Facebook page noted that he had been campaigning for the seat since February.

“I was very surprised. I knew I put the work into it, but I kept on hearing all these people talking about all this incumbency stuff," DiBona said. "…I continued to not listen to that. I continued to work through that, and I pushed through it. I thought I had a chance of making third place, but when the results came in and I beat all three, I was so surprised. And I don't think anybody predicted that."

Incumbents Barbara Isola (5,066 votes) and Anne Mahoney (5,558) retained their seats, but incumbent Emily Lebo was ousted after receiving 4,793 votes.

Though new to the school committee, DiBona already has big ideas for change.

"The music program at both high schools, Quincy and North, that will be my first step in getting something done right away," he said. "There isn’t a lot of participation, only 70 children involved with both schools, Brockton High has 200 - the numbers don’t add up. In the four years ill be there, I want to have 50 new children involved and keep it from 70-120 every year."

To see all the results, click here.

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