Largest crowd in 16 years turns out to elect Wellington mayor, trustees

Deputy Town Clerk Cynthia Sullivan wasn’t surprised to see a good turnout for the April 1 election for mayor and four town of Wellington trustees.

“Every four years, when the mayoral position is open, there’s always a bigger turnout,” she said. This year, in addition to mayor, there were four openings for trustees — three for four year terms and one for a two-year term.

Sullivan said the election drew the largest crowd she’s seen in 16 years on the job. She added that the percentage of registered voters participating remained about the same as in the previous mayoral races.

Prior to March 25 there were 4,291 registered voters in Wellington and 898 people voted on April 1. Sullivan said that because it was possible to register on election day, she did not yet have an accurate total of the current number of registered voters.

Former trustee Jack Brinkhoff was elected to a four-year term as mayor defeating Arlene Schiffman 546 to 314 votes.

Among the 10 candidates vying for trustee positions Ashley Macdonald, with 446 votes, Tim Singewald, 417 votes and Travis Harless, 362 votes, were elected to four-year terms. Matt Michel with 351 votes was elected to a two-year term.

The remaining candidates and their vote count were: Raymond Billington, 348, Mishie Daknis, 225, Bob Williams, 206, James McIntosh, 198, David Noe, 193, Barry Frederichs, 166. R. Gale Chadwick dropped out of the race several weeks before the election.

During his first meeting as mayor, Brinkhoff, said he senses a new drive forward and a willingness of many to participate in boards and commissions. “It will make the workload easier,” he said.

He’s anxious to make an outline of what the trustees hope to accomplish — over the next six months to a year, and within two years — to figure how to best accomplish their expectations. He sees the park and drainage issues as obvious starting points.

Brinkhoff acknowledged the diversity of group as the new trustees take their seats, and says opinions will vary for sure.

“I try to listen objectively and decide what’s best for Wellington before making any decision,” he said. “Even though part of our rown was divided on issues, and some may have even tried to misconstrue facts, we can still all work together for the common good of the Town and bring about some great changes.”

Trustee Tim Singewald feels a mix of emotions following the election. He is honored to be entrusted with such a great responsibility, but also realizes that with any change there is a great amount of work and mental stress ahead. Foremost in his mind right now is the implementation and moving to completion of the Wellington Parks and Trails Master Plan. His goal is to keep costs low by taking advantage of every possible grant and donation.

He recognizes that Wellington faces many issues in addition to the park and he hopes to make a plan to address them by involving the community, the town staff and the Board of Trustees.

Singewald was impressed by huge turnout at the April 8 trustee meeting and said he felt a sense of optimism and good cheer among those present. But for him, the meeting felt a bit overwhelming, confronted, as he was, with an unfamiliar computer and a full slate of topics demanding a vote, many of them complex and with far-reaching implications.

In the future, he’d like to see a training session prior to the trustees’ first meeting.

“The whirlwind from the election to the election results, to the first Board meeting was only one week,” he said.

“Forward progress is contagious and exhilarating,” Singewald said. He looks forward to a time when an even larger percentage of the voters show up at the polls motivated to become active in determining the future of their hometown.

Ashley Macdonald looks forward to the new board coming together to focus on the status of current projects in order to determine what they have to work with in the future. “It was great to see such a large turnout and refreshing to see new faces at the first board meeting. I look forward to working with such a diverse group of individuals,” Macdonald said.

She is fully aware of the time commitment involved with this position. She hopes the trustees will find a way to share the committee responsibilities as equally as possible. She also noted the importance of the trustees maintaining their involvement in the community as townspeople become increasingly active in community affairs.

A vacancy on the board of trustees created by the election of Jack Brinkhoff as mayor was filled by candidate Raymond Billington, next highest vote getter in the election.

A ballot question to increase debt without an increase in taxes for the design and construction of Wellington Community Park passed by a vote of 548 for and 336 against.

New enthusiasm among current and new members of the Board of Trustees and increased interest in their town and its future among residents bode well for the future of Wellington.

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