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By Aaron Leibowitz and Matthew Reid
November 04. 2015 12:12AM
Override defeated by wide margin
Mayor Rob Dolan's proposed Proposition 2 1/2 property tax override failed by a convincing margin in Tuesday's citywide election, with 61.1 percent voting 'No' and 36.7 percent voting 'Yes,' according to unofficial tallies released shortly after polls closed.
The ballot question received more 'No' than 'Yes' votes at all 14 precincts in Melrose.
Dolan's override proposal called for a tax levy limit increase of $2.25 million, on top of the standard 2.5 percent increase. Funds from the override in Fiscal Year 2016 would have gone toward additional school positions and two new police officers.
Total voter turnout was 44 percent for the election, which also included Board of Aldermen and School Committee races. Turnout was significantly higher than in typical citywide election years, presumably because of the override.
The override debate has dominated civic discussion in Melrose ever since the Board of Aldermen agreed in late June to place it on the ballot.
Most city officials predicted the vote would be decided by a few percentage points; seemingly none predicted a rout in favor of the 'No' camp.
Dolan admitted all along that his proposal was not a "gun-to-your-head" override, and that his goal instead was to be proactive by pumping funds into the schools and balancing the district's budget before larger issues arise.
But voters stated loud and clear on Tuesday that they do not want to pay more taxes -- or, at least, not for the purposes that Dolan outlined.
Melrose has not approved a Proposition 2 1/2 override since 1992. The city most recently rejected an override in 2002.
In a race that came down to the wire, Ed O’Connell and Lizbeth DeSelm were elected to the Melrose School committee, earning 3,367 and 3,340 votes respectively. The two narrowly edged fellow challenger Jaime McAllister-Grande, who received 3,181 votes.
Margaret Driscoll, the only incumbent running for reelection on the School Committee, received 3,897 votes to top all candidates in the race. Driscoll topped 12 of the 14 precincts in the city.
In the other city-wide race, Michael Zwirko edged Jean-Daniel LaRock for the final spot in the bid for alderman at large. Zwirko received 3,598 votes, to LaRock's 3,240. Incumbents Monica Medeiros, Donald Conn and Mary Beth McAteer-Margolis were the top three finishers, with Medeiros topping the ticket with 5,034 votes. Medeiros was the top vote-getter in each of the precincts in the city.
Each of the Board of Aldermen members representing the seven wards in the city were reelected. In those wards with races, incumbents John Tramontozzi from Ward 1 (62 percent), Frank Wright from Ward 3 (57 percent) and Gail Infurna from Ward 5 (52 percent) defeated their challengers (Joseph Musto, Mark Askenazy and Anthony Fera, respectively) by wide margins.
Also reelected were incumbents Jennifer Lemmerman in Ward 2, Robert Boisselle in Ward 4, Peter Mortimer in Ward 6 and Scott Forbes in Ward 7.
Rob Dolan, running unopposed, was reelected as mayor with 70 percent of the votes cast.
Glad that Medeiros was the ticket topper, as well she should be. Makes no sense that LaRock didn't win when clearly he is the most capable of all the newcomers by a large margin. The local dems should be ashamed of themselves for their failure to support him because he took the right stand on the override. Thank you, Dr. LaRock for your strong and ethical campaign. Please know your efforts are appreciated and please keep working for a better Melrose.
Interesting that the mayor didn't get 30% of the available votes even running unopposed. Hope he understands that there are many residents who are very, very unhappy with his conduct. He ought to be paying attention to this because he certainly has damaged his credibility and long overstayed his welcome with all his bad behavior.
As for the school committee, this has been an unfolding and continuing disaster from before the election even started. The election results are nonsensical, but there couldn't have been a good result with such a poor lineup regardless. How anyone could in good conscience vote for MD after observing how she has been so instrumental in crafting the trainwreck that is now the Melrose Public Schools (including chairing the superintendent search committee and the Finance Subcommittee that came up with that hairbrained override scheme) is beyond comprehension, but then this is Melrose after all.
Kudos to the people who organized the NO campaign on the override. It took courage to go up against the mayor's political machine. The mayor will forever label them as haters but they now know that more than 60% of the voters joined with them.
If they had not put up such a good effort, it's possible that many of those against it wouldn't have voted thinking they were in the minority. The Yes group had tried to make everyone believe they had the whole city in favor of it. They were wrong.
The Yes group was never, and can never be anything other than a special interest group. They have always been, and always will be the minority. Will they try again at some point? Of course. Will the result be any different? No.
The first essential step to improving our schools? Get rid of the current administration, and get the Mayor off the SC.
Now on to the water and sewer. A little taxpayer revolt is never a bad thing. If we don't speak out, they will continue to abuse us.
Yes, very grateful to all who worked for the "Vote No to Administrative Slush Fund" campaign. Knowing how many on the other side waged a hateful and untruthful campaign sinking even to bullying anyone who dared to ask questions, it took a lot of courage to stand tall for the best interests of the whole community. Observed some very poor behavior on the campaign trail (Yes sign-holders barging in, parking illegally in child drop-off zones to prop up a barrage of their signs, and purposely trying to stand in front of opposition; Yes proponents verbally abusing residents innocently asking tough questions). Unfortunately the Yes side has engaged in the mayor's hate-mongering and now there will likely be more of it. Those Yes types who are trying to be gracious will be outnumbered by those who have already displayed their vindictiveness and total lack of class.
RD only surrounds himself with those who tell him what he wants to hear, so it's no surprise that so many of his minions "predicted" a slam-dunk override win (based on things like their foolish twitter and facebook feeds). It's no wonder they are so out of touch. It was disgraceful that RD went so far as to hold a "forum" that refused to allow the other side even a voice at the table. It was disgraceful that he put his blatant political messages on the city website, portraying it all as "fact." It was disgraceful that he used city employees to campaign flagrantly for him and his failed cause. Watch now as he compounds the disgrace with more contemptuous behavior because that is virtually a certainty. There will be no improvement in the community's "cultural proficiency" now that the incumbents have all gotten their green light. Sad times for Melrose. It will take more than the override amount to pay for all the fall-out of failed administration that is already taking place, especially in the schools.
The Yes for Melrose people were job hunting. They're looking for paid city jobs as kindergarten aides, sped aides and secretaries in the schools. That's how Melrose works. The only people the schools and city hire were all 'yes-women' prior to being hired. Diane Hogan is their biggest hero.
It's all played out before. Some yes-men also will be appointed to task forces and search committees because they proved their loyalty to the mayor and superintendent. It's a win-win for them all. The mayor and superintendent get confirmed rubber stamps and the hacks get to think they're important. Sadder still, other Melrose residents are fooled and later vote them onto school committee, aldermen and beyond. Again, it's happened before. That's why they do it. They aren't stupid.