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Clemence, Daoust top ballot

Clerk and Council spark ballot interest

Town Council candidate Denise Clemence, talks to her husband, Bob (back to camera), while they held signs on Chestnut Street. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
July 02, 2009
SOUTHBRIDGE — Controversy definitely brought out the voters for Tuesday's annual town election.

Tallies from the town clerk's office showed that the turnout surpassed last year's just after 5 p.m., with about three hours to go, in part due to the unusual contest for clerk on top of races for Town Council and School Committee.

The clerk's race attracted by far the largest number of votes for any one candidate, returning two-term incumbent Madaline Daoust to her job over John Pulawski, 1,766 to 316. It was so lopsided that when an observer predicted a 3-1 Daoust win during the afternoon, one sign-holder at West Street School said, "You're being generous."

Pulawski's challenge prompted Daoust to recuse herself from any election-related duties, and take the day off. Instead, Sturbridge Town Clerk Lorraine Murawski served as the "go-to" person, talking to Southbridge election officials several times by phone and arriving at Town Hall just before the polls closed. She said it was the first time another town asked her to provide such assistance.

"This is a unique scenario," Murawski said. "I've never heard of a situation where the town clerk was barred from participating. Many town clerks who were challenged ran their own elections."

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage.

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