Updated 1 pm
Jim Newman narrowly won a third term on the Aquinnah board of selectmen, narrowly defeating Elise LeBovit by nine votes in the town’s annual election Wednesday.
Newman, who has served on the board for the past 15 years, received 80 votes to LeBovit’s 71. In the three-way race for selectman, Jay Thiese, an attorney, finished a distant third, with 17 votes.
“It was sort of a wake-up call, in a way,” Newman said of the election results, “Elise did very well, and there’s a message there. We need to do public hearings and hear what people think we can do. I imagine it’s about the taxes. It wasn’t the assessor issue. Our budget that we generated just went up 5 percent, where fixed costs went up 25 percent. We will look at land we own and brainstorm and talk with the public to see what ideas they have. We have to see what the public wants. They are definitely giving us a message they are not happy.”
LeBovit, who has one year left on her term on the board of assessors, said she was happy to have run, and felt she got her message across to the town. “I’m very uplifted,” she said, “I feel we were heard. I connected with people and heard their ideas and complaints, and that was very reassuring to me. We asked for planning. We asked for a voice. Great support shown, and it was a very close race. I’m encouraged we will be a little more respected. We won’t be bullied as badly as we have been, and we’ll be heard.”
LeBovit added her disappointment that the board of assessors became appointed instead of elected. “I was more upset about that than losing as selectwoman,” she said.
While finishing with the fewest votes, Thiese said he was looking forward to being active in town politics. “I feel fine. I think that what happened is what should have happened. It’s clear the town is thinking about different directions. I hope the select board has a lot of different views about things. I’m very pleased with the election. I wrote Jim Newman a letter of congratulations. I indicated I want to be an active participant. It’s time for bylaw changes. It’s time for regulatory changes. I’m very satisfied that I brought that issue to dialogue,” he said.
Running unopposed, Gabriella Camilleri received 150 votes to become the new town clerk in Aquinnah.
All of the questions on the ballot were approved.
In a vote of 90-75, Question 1, which is $325,000 for the Up-Island School District, was approved.
Question 2, which changes the board of assessors from elected to appointed, was approved 98-66.
In a 125-28 vote, Question 3 provides a tax deferral for senior citizens.
Question 4 provides a senior exemption, reducing the age from 70 to 65, and increases the exemption to 10 percent from 5 percent. The question passed 119-31.
In a vote of 133-21, Question 5 was approved, providing an exemption from the Community Preservation Act for low-income housing and low- or moderate-income senior housing.
Aquinnah election results
Selectman: James Newman, 80 votes; Elise LeBovit, 71 votes; Jay Theise, 17 votes
Board of assessors: Marsha Shufrin, 129
Planning board: Berta Giles Welch, 134
Board of health: James Glavin, 132
Town clerk: Gabriella Camilleri, 150
Land Bank commissioner: Sarah Thulin, 123
Library trustee: Faith Vanderhoop, 16
Question 1: Yes 90, No 75
Question 2: Yes 98, No 66
Question 3: Yes 125, No 28
Question 4: Yes 119, No 31
Question 5: Yes 133, No 21
Updated with vote counts and quotes from selectmen candidates.