By Cynthia Drummond
Sun staff writer
HOPKINTON — Members of the Hopkinton Town council, both the newly elected and the re-elected, were contemplating the voting results Wednesday and looking ahead to how they will work together after they are sworn in on Nov. 19.
The two new council members, Democrat Sharon Davis and Republican Scott Bill Hirst, received the most votes, 2,248 and 2,071 respectively. They will replace retiring councilors Thomas Buck and David Husband.
Unaffiliated incumbent Barbara Capalbo was third with 1,854 votes. Frank Landolfi, the current council president, also unaffiliated, received 1,712 votes, and Democrat Sylvia Thompson received 1,686 votes.
There were 584 write-in votes. Joseph Moreau, a member of a citizens’ group that is opposed to changing residential zones to commercial for industrial solar developments, announced Monday that he was running as a write-in candidate to take votes from Thompson, Landolfi and Capalbo.
Voter turnout was high, an indication of the current level of resident engagement in town politics. Of 6,540 eligible voters, 3,204, or 49 percent, cast ballots.
Davis said she was thrilled to learn that she had received the greatest number of votes.
“I think over half of the people voted for me, and I just wanted to state that I will do my best to be worthy of their trust,” she said. “I hope the election will encourage the council to be more proactive in seeking out the desires of the townspeople in making decisions. The council should also support the recommendations of town agencies and boards, since they are manned by Hopkinton residents.”
Davis said she had begun preparing to serve on the council.
“I printed out Robert’s Rules and printed out the open meeting law,” she said. “I will do things a little different than the current council and I actually will have a sign-up sheet for people who want to talk, and I will give them as much time as they need. Apparently, Westerly goes to 11 o’clock, so I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that people feel that we have listened to them.”
Landolfi said he believed the local election results were a reflection of what is happening on a national level.
“I think, nationally, it is sort of the year of the Democrat with two years in from the current president and that kind of reverberated down to the local level,” he said. “Even despite only five people on the ballot, I probably should have put more work into my own re-election — not that I took anything for granted, but I just didn’t anticipate a write-in candidate.”
Hirst, who served several previous terms on the council, said he was looking forward to being on the council again.
“There could be divided government, but I just hope that regardless of our views on that council, we understand politics and government enough to know that you’ve got to give and take,” he said. “One of my concerns is that people have to know that there’s five members on the Town Council and not just themselves and I think that’s very crucial to get anything done.”
Thompson, a council veteran who served from 1990 to 1996 and again from 2006 to the present, said she was optimistic that the new council would work well together.
“I think it was a really great turnout, and I know that once the new council gets seated, we’ll all work together as a team,” she said.
Barbara Capalbo said she was looking forward to serving a seventh term on the council, which, for the first time, will have a majority of women.
“This will be the first time we’ll have three women on council at the same time,” she said. “So we basically have town mothers instead of town fathers.”
The town’s approach to solar and other renewable energy projects, Capalbo said, would be balanced by the addition of two new councilors.
“With this vote, Hopkinton citizens are still balanced between solar arrays to help the tax load and protecting their environment and our values,” she said. “I think they’re still split and I think you have to listen to both sides.”
The matter of who will lead the council is far from decided. Landolfi will seek another term as president, but so will at least three other councillors, Davis, Hirst and Capalbo. Council members will elect a president and vice president on the night they are sworn in.