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Regis, McDonald, Vandal win

Lazo, Principe returned to School Committee

Supporters of the candidates do some last-minute electioneering at the polling place boundary at the Community Center Tuesday, above. Dean Coots. (click for larger version)
June 29, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — The Town Council became a family affair Tuesday night, as voters saw fit to replace Al Vecchia with Laurent "Butch" McDonald. Starting next week, he could be sitting next to his namesake father on the dais.

With 635 votes, McDonald was the second-highest vote-getter from a field of nine. Top slot went to incumbent Pamela Regis (782), and Conrad Vandal also retained his seat with 630.

"I'm very happy with the outcome," Vandal said. "I can't wait to get back to work. There are big changes in the next couple years; you can see them coming — the new school, the landfill, the Registry. I can't wait to hit them head-on."

In the other key ballot race, incumbent Scott Lazo cruised to re-election, but so did Mary Ellen Prencipe. She walked away with 605 votes as a write-in (which would have put her fourth on the council list), as Lazo garnered 713.

While holding signs outside the Armory, Prencipe observed that the youth voters were not participating.

"I could count on one hand the young people — [up to age] 25, 26 or so — who drove in. They were very sporadic," she said. "If that's the case, shame on the rest of us for not getting them involved."

Fellow School Committee member Tanja Dominko, who was supporting Gary Fontaine next to Prencipe, agreed, but said she had "no idea" how to correct it. She noted the schools do a good job of promoting community projects, "but that doesn't translate to this whole other side of the coin [i.e. elections]."

Several hours later, at Town Hall awaiting the results, McDonald likewise wished turnout had been better. (Just 1,722 people voted, 14 percent of the town's registered voters.)

"This is one of the most important times we're facing as a nation, a state, a community. People really need to take an interest in their government," McDonald said. He agreed, however, that part of the apathy comes from the strong influence of special and corporate interests and the common perception that some officeholders have ulterior motives. To correct that, he said government officials need "to put forth their best effort to do things for the right reasons," while people themselves need to get more involved and "be their own special interest."

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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