EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 6, 2012

Republicans sweep in Salem House race

By Doug Ireland direland@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — SALEM — It was a Republican sweep in the House District 8 race, with nine GOP candidates beating out nine Democratic opponents.

For Salem voters, it was an Election Day marked by long waits at some polling areas and continuation of the town’s Republican tradition of leadership.

Incumbent Ronald Belanger was the top vote-getter in the House race, receiving 6,519 votes.

The other winners are Gary Azarian, 6,504; John Sytek, 6,399; Joseph Sweeney, 6,287; Robert Elliott, 5,996; Marilinda Garcia, 5,877; Anne Priestley, 5,808; Bianca Garcia, 5, 760; and Patrick Bick, 4,931.

Defeated were Democrats Michael Murray, 4,810; Susan Desmet, 4,753; John Murphy, 4,134; Rebecca Fee, 4,082; Ralph Stein, 4,051; Camrom Iannaflo, 3,907; Dee Lewis, 3,709; Lawson Brouse, 3,659; and Harley Featherston, 3,449.

Long lines and a overall voter turnout of 76 percent led to delays at the polls, leading to waits of more than an hour at the Mary Fisk School and Ingram Senior Center. Waits were much shorter at the town’s two other polling places.

“The turnout was awesome,” moderator Christopher Goodnow said.

But Goodnow considered seeking state permission to keep the polls open longer. Redistricting may be needed, he said.

People were still casting votes well after the polls were scheduled to close at 7 p.m. Voting didn’t end until about 8 p.m.,

But some tempers flared as frustrated voters waited to cast their ballots, questioning the town’s recent move from six to four polling places.

Maureen Hanlon, 54, was angry as she finally cast her ballot at the senior center. There was no excuse for such a long wait, she said.

“I’ve been screaming about it to election officials,” she said.

Barbarajean Jesner, 44, was also frustrated.

“They should have more poll workers — big time,” she said.

Shane Blair, 52, was among the last in line at the senior center at 6:45 p.m. — 15 minutes before the polls were to close. He was nervous about not getting a chance to vote.

“If they close the polls before I get up there to vote, there will be a lawsuit,” he said.