EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

May 21, 2013

Different criteria used in 2009 to fill school board seat

METHUEN — City officials have determined that an opening on the School Committee will be offered to Robert Vogler because his vote tally was the highest of the defeated candidates and exceeded 20 percent of the voter turnout for School Committee in the 2011 election.

City Clerk Christine Touma-Conway said last Tuesday the city would follow that interpretation in advising the School Committee on filling an unexpired term created by the resignation of Mark Graziano on May 7.

But, a review of The Eagle-Tribune archives found a resignation from the School Committee was averted in 2009 when the members involved were informed that the intended successor could not automatically be appointed because he did not earn 20 percent of the total votes cast, a much larger number that eliminated every person who stood in the 2009 election and in the 2011 election, including Vogler.

Touma-Conway last Tuesday said officials in 2009 decided to count people, instead of total votes cast, because “it could be mathematically impossible to meet otherwise.”

“If you look at it from the 8,981 people who voted, each got six votes,” she said. “If you carry that out, you have a potential of 53,886 votes. With 23,030 blanks and 30,856 votes cast, 20 percent of that is 6,171. Nobody got even close to that. We had people in the 4,000s. That’s weird because we’re stetting a standard higher (for appointment) than what it took to get elected.”

On Nov. 3, 2009, committee member Kenneth Henrick placed sixth out of eight candidates, narrowly retaining his seat and beating fellow incumbent George Kazanjian by five votes, according to the tally from election night.

Henrick, 70 at the time, suggested he may resign, thinking the younger Kazanjian would be next in line for the committee.

However, Kazanjian was told at the time he would not automatically get the seat because he did not win 20 percent of the total votes cast.

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