NORTH ANDOVER — Selectmen Donald Stewart and Tracy Watson were re-elected yesterday, running well ahead of their challenger, political newcomer Adam Sapienza.
Only 7 percent of the town's voters bothered to go to the polls at North Andover High School.
Stewart, who won his seventh 3-year term on the Board of Selectmen, topped the ticket with 840 votes. Watson was close behind with 794 votes while Sapienza netted 512 probably a much better total than many observers expected.
Stewart, 73, a retired painting contractor, won his first term in 1991. He served as a selectman for 15 years, was on the sidelines for five years, then made a comeback in 2011. He won by 12 votes that year, edging out then-Selectman Richard Nardella.
Last night, while receiving well-wishers at his home at 52 Prospect St., Stewart, a large, powerfully built, folksy man with a disarming sense of humor, attributed his victory to "just being me." He's lived in North Andover all his life and is very well-known in the town.
"People put their trust in me," he said. Asked what he wants to achieve over the next three or six years, Stewart said he wants to "keep the town the way it's going." He has often noted that the selectmen, School Committee and Finance Committee are working together harmoniously. That was not the case a few years ago.
"I am incredibly grateful," Watson said of her success at the polls. The voters, she said, "had faith in what we are doing."
Watson, 45, won her third term yesterday. She's the senior property manager at Wood Ridge Homes on Waverly Road.
An older man gave Watson a brief scare, telling her that her numbers were not looking good. That turned out to be inaccurate, however, and as soon as Town Clerk Joyce Bradshaw announced the results in the high school gymnasium, Watson called her 13-year-old son Cameron to report that "Mommy won!"