A Race for School Committee as Nomination Deadline Passes

Write ins will be elected in two of eight precinct races.

Hank Thidemann opened the door to the Town Clerk's office out of breath and a bit worried. The days after the blizzard that dumped 27 inches of snow on Belmont meant that "there was a lot of snow to clear" and the resident seeking to be a Town Meeting representative in Precinct 6 stretched the time to collect the necessary 25 signatures on his nomination papers to the last minute.

Literally, the very last minute. 

With the clock on the wall showing 5 p.m., out of breath and waving his nomination papers as he came through the door, Thidemann wondered aloud, "Did I make it in time?"

Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman – who asked the visibly-sweating Thidemann if he needed some water – took the sheets of papers and put it into the time stamp machine. Taking it out, Cushman declared, "Five p.m. Congratulations! You made it and that's what counts." 

And with Thidemann's submission, the nomination period for Belmont's Town Election that will take place on Tuesday, April 2, closed. 

With papers still needing to be certified, the town's voters will tentatively have a competitive race to decide for Belmont School Committee as three candidates – an incumbent and two newcomers – will seek two seats on the board while write-ins will be elected in two of the town's eight precincts as not enough candidates are available to fill the 12 seats up for grabs in each district. 

Committee member Laurie Slap joins 2009 Belmont High School graduate and MIT student Jamie Kang and Elyse Shuster, a board member of the Foundation for Belmont Education with children in the district schools, will compete for two positions.

In half of the town's eight precincts, voters will have the chance to vote for more than the minimum 12 residents seeking seats on the representative body – Precinct 4 has 13 candidates, Precinct 5 as 16 and Precinct 6 with 15.

Precinct 1 will have two residents battling it out for a one-year term, including 18-year-old Belmont High School student Chris Van Winkle.

Precincts 7 and 8 have 10 residents seeking 12 seats so in each of those districts, two write-in candidates will be elected to the approximately 300 member Town Meeting which will gather four weeks after the election. 

Candidates for Belmont Town-Elected Positions (who have submitted nomination papers) 

* indicates an incumbent seeking re-election.

School Committee (2 seats)

Laurie Slap, 95 Long Ave.*

Jamie Kang 

Elyse Shuster, 29 Van Ness Rd.

Board of Library Trustees (2 seats)

Mark Carthy, 21 Stone Rd.*

Sarah Phillips, 34 Tyler Rd.*

Board of Health

Deirdre Houtmeyers, 54 Park Rd. 

Board of Assessors

Charles Laverty III, 10 Cedar Rd.*


Michael Widmer, 126 Gilbert Rd.*

Town Clerk

Ellen O’Brien Cushman, 38 Scott Rd.*

Board of Selectmen

Mark Paolillo, 42 Pilgrim Rd.*

Housing Authority

Gloria Leipzig, 48 Gorham Rd.

Cemetery Commission

William Chemelli, 11 Ripley Rd.

Dave February 13, 2013 at 03:39 PM
There are too many slots for Town Meeting. With some competition the TM members might actually try to be responsive and available to residents, as opposed to just viewing it as their God-given lifetime term.
Franklin Tucker February 13, 2013 at 04:42 PM
Good point, David. How many reps per precinct should there be? How about a city-council version of Town Meeting; one rep from each precinct?
Trish Lohmar February 14, 2013 at 12:17 AM
Actually, the idea of fewer TM members has come up before. The Government Structure Review Committee, chaired by Paul Solomon, suggested reducing the number. However, the TM members didn't like the idea (no surprise). Think of the reaction if we were to ask Congress to reduce their numbers - whom do you think would be the first to volunteer to go? I bet even those Congressmen who clamor for smaller government wouldn't volunteer to leave.
Dave February 15, 2013 at 09:22 PM
The reason for the large number is supposed to be so that they can be well connected to their neighbors. I've lived in Belmont for 13 years, and have yet to be canvassed by a TM member. On just one occasion I did meet someone running, in a year when there was actual competition. The number should be cut by 1/2. Also, the TM members should be required to post their phone # and email address on the town web site.


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