Canton voters pick Connolly, Theodore in 4-way Board of Selectmen race

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Chris Connolly, Tom Shaughnessy, Bob Sykes, Lyle Channing, Rickie Eckler, and Eileen Magee hold signs in front of the Rodman building on Election Day on Tuesday, April 4. (Michelle Stark photo)

Chris Connolly, Tom Shaughnessy, Bob Sykes, Lyle Channing, Rickie Eckler, and Eileen Magee hold signs in front of the Rodman building on Election Day on Tuesday, April 4. (Michelle Stark photo)

It was a night for the newcomers as Canton voters welcomed two more fresh faces — Chris Connolly and Tom Theodore — to the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday in a closely followed and highly anticipated 2017 town election.

Connolly, a former two-term Planning Board member, was the night’s big winner in the four-way BOS race as he carried four of six precincts and picked up 1,387 votes out of 2,640 cast. Theodore, a lifelong Cantonite who had never held elected office, scored the other open selectman’s seat with 1,272 votes. Theodore was also the preferred choice in two of the six precincts (1 and 5).

Victor Del Vecchio, a 15-year board member and the only incumbent in the race, finished third overall with 1,055 votes, while Jeremy Comeau, who just wrapped up his third term on the Planning Board, took fourth with 917 votes.

The ouster of Del Vecchio after five consecutive terms and several chairmanships came as a surprise to many observers, although it continued a trend that began in 2015 with the defeat of longtime incumbent Avril Elkort. In that year’s race, then Selectman Sal Salvatori’s decision not to run for reelection brought a number of new candidates into the fold — including the two eventual winners, Kevin Feeney and Mark Porter — and this year followed a similar pattern after incumbent Bob Burr decided not to seek another term.

Now with Connolly and Theodore assuming their seats, the BOS will have only a single member, John Connolly, who has served more than one term — continuing a dramatic reshaping of a board that, until recently, had enjoyed many years of relative stability.

For Chris Connolly, Tuesday’s results were somewhat in line with his expectations given all of the positive feedback he had received while on the campaign trail.

“Everyone I talked to was very positive about our campaign,” he said. “And all the candidates ran a very positive campaign, which was great, but I had a sense that if we got our [supporters] to vote that we were going to do pretty well because I was getting a lot of good feedback from different groups and I met a lot of different people who came to our functions and who voiced support for us.”

Connolly said he campaigned on the idea of bringing “independence and balanced leadership” as well as transparency to the BOS, and he felt that resonated strongly with voters. “I feel like we need fresh perspectives,” he said. “I think it’s healthy.”

As for Theodore, he said he was hopeful going into Election Day but was still “shocked” that he was able to pull out the win against more experienced candidates.

“I just can’t thank the people enough who have supported me and have pushed me to do this … I am at a loss for words,” he said. “I just can’t believe this has happened. I am thrilled.”

“I have so much respect for [Del Vecchio] and I have so much respect for [Comeau],” he said. “They’re smart people; they know what they’re doing. I think I just appeal to people that not so much wanted change, but wanted to be able to reach out and talk to somebody on their level … that’s what I’m about. Whatever they need, call me and I will work with them.”

In the only other contested race in Tuesday’s election, political newcomer Patricia McDermott defeated another newcomer, Patrick Manning, for the one-year Planning Board vacancy. McDermott won by almost 300 votes (1284-987) and carried five of the six precincts, with Manning prevailing in precinct 3.

Joining McDermott on the Planning Board will be Bob Panico and David McCarthy, who both ran unopposed — Panico for a full five-year term and McCarthy for a three-year term (to fill a vacancy).

The other seven candidates on the ballot all ran unopposed: John Bonnanzio and Reuki Schutt for School Committee, Gene Manning for Board of Assessors, Julie Goodman for Board of Health, and Susan Cogliano, George Comeau and Dorothy Shea for Board of Library Trustees.

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