NORTH ATTLEBORO — A small fraction of local voters turned out Tuesday for a low-key election that returned five of the town council’s nine members to office as well as a few newcomers.
Justin Paré was the top vote-getter in the 12-way race for the nine open council seats. He received 1,068 votes, making him the council’s president-elect under the town charter. Paré, 41, was the council’s vice president in his first term as well as the chairman of the finance subcommittee.
John Simmons was second in vote totals with 1,013 to win his second term on the council.
Councilors Jo Ann Cathcart, Darius Gregory and Kathleen Prescott were all re-elected to new two-year terms in the first election since the town’s government overhaul. Andrew Shanahan, who was appointed in January to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Adam Scanlon on his election to the state Legislature, won a full term, placing eighth in the tally.
Joining the board will be Andrea Slobogan, who placed third in the balloting, and Mark Gould, who placed ninth. Returning to town government will be Patrick Reynolds, a former member of the board of selectmen under the town’s former system of government, who placed fourth in the council voting.
Placing out of the running were candidates John Donohue and Daniel Donovan. Incumbent Councilor Julie Boyce placed last in the final tally and was the only incumbent not returned to office.
Two councilors, President Keith Lapointe and Mike Lennox, did not run for re-election.
In the only other contest on the ballot, incumbent John F. Casey, with 1,050 votes, and Craig Cameron, with 614 votes, were elected to two three-year terms on the electric commission, which oversees the town’s municipal electric utility. Challenger William Carlson placed third with 589 votes.
There were none of the technical glitches that had plagued two local elections in the recent past. Town officials said voting at North Attleboro High School polls had been slow but steady and results were available with in a hour of the polls closing at 8 p.m.
It was an election conducted under the strictures of social distancing and pandemic precautions and without major controversies — such as the Proposition 2 ½ referendums that have driven turnout in the past. There were no ballot questions up for a vote this year.
Only 1,583 of the town’s 21,493 registered voters cast ballots — either by mail or in person on Election Day — for a turnout of just under 7.4 percent. The town did not allow early in-person voting in the annual election. Turnout in November’s state and federal elections was 78 percent. But Tuesday’s turnout was still an improvement compared to 2020’s town election that saw only 4.3 percent of voters cast ballots in the town’s first pandemic election.
A forum hosted by North TV saw most of the candidates for council — incumbents and challengers — praise the way the town has handled challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic and financial challenges over the past year.
Lynda Fish, who cast her ballot late Tuesday at North Attleboro High, had no trouble sorting through the dozen hopefuls for the council seats. Fish, 64, said “I just voted for the three people I wanted to win. I voted for the people I knew, or knew of.”