EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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March 27, 2013

Vispoli, Salafia win low-turnout election

Only 4.6 percent of voters cast cards

ANDOVER — Under 5 percent of voters sent Board of Selectmen incumbents Alex Vispoli and Paul Salafia back to the board for three years yesterday, but voter apathy was the largest conversation piece following yesterday’s annual town elections.

Vispoli took 843 votes in the race with 1,054 cards cast, awarding him his fourth term since 2004. Salafia took second with 646 votes, earning him his first full three-year term after joining the board two years ago to finish off a term vacated by a prior member. Blank votes beat the third candidate in the race. Larry Bruce received 305 votes, while 308 voters cast blank votes.

With 22,862 registered voters in Andover, only 4.61 percent of them voted yesterday. Standing at the high school’s field house moments before the polls closed, Bruce said of the 4.6 percent turnout: “I wouldn’t interpret it as a positive. The first question is, ‘Why?’”

Those who won didn’t seem enthusiastic about the turnout either.

“I believe the selectmen race is one of the most important races to every citizen, because it is so direct,” Salafia said. “When is the last time a U.S. senator had a direct effect on every citizen? This vote should be very important to them, and I’m discouraged that the turnout is so low.”

“When we talk about what could have been, I would say there are people that didn’t even know there was an election today,” Vispoli said. “How do we notify (the public of the election) or get the word out?”

Vispoli said local media was partially to blame for that. Salafia extended his concerns to a lack of candidate forums that, in previous years, were key avenues for those in the race to project their platforms.

With three or four forums typically taking place before each election, only the League of Women Voters put the candidates on the air this year, according to Salafia.

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