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Incumbent selectmen win in Holbrook election

Two candidates for Holbrook selectman whose names had been in the news prior to their campaigns - one with a successful petition article at Town Meeting last fall, and one connected with a poker club closed by police - were unable to unseat the incumbents in Tuesday’s annual election.

Alex W. Mann fared the best of the challengers, receiving 585 votes. Mann started a petition last year that placed a nonbinding article on the fall Town Meeting warrant in support of building a new K-12 educational complex. Paul A. Anastasio, former operator of a charity poker club in town, received 545 votes.

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The incumbent selectmen, Kevin J. Sheehan and Brinsley A. Fuller, received 758 and 680 votes, respectively. The candidates ran in a four-way race for two seats.

In the only other contested race Tuesday, Planning Board member Michael Reith retained his seat against a challenge from Frederick White, getting 614 votes to White’s 516.

Anastasio decided to run for office after he had trouble getting the town’s permission to reopen his operation as a private social club, where he said members would not gamble for money. State law allows gambling at events that raise money for charity, provided the operators meet specific legal requirements, but Holbrook police closed the South Shore Poker Club last year, citing management problems.

Mann said he knocked on many doors during his campaign for selectman, and the defeat was disappointing.

“I think they just did a better job of getting the vote out,’’ he said. “That’s how it works.’’

Although Mann attracted supporters for the school project, he also said he wanted to help draw more business to the town. Business was a frequent refrain in the campaigns. Anastasio wanted to make the permitting process easier, and Fuller said he hoped to lower the tax rate in anticipation of a future increase for the new school complex.

After learning of his win, Fuller said he was pleased not only to return to the five-member board, but also to return with Sheehan. The present board’s members work well together, he said, adding, “I’m very happy that it stayed intact.’’

Amie Pierce, who held signs for the challengers outside the polls at Holbrook Junior-Senior High School on Tuesday, expressed the frustration of opposition voters, saying, “I don’t feel like anything has been progressing in Holbrook.’’

Contrary to what some may believe, Fuller said, selectmen have not opposed building a new school. The board has, however, taken steps to explore regionalization, something the Massachusetts School Building Authority asked the town to do.

The Board of Selectmen submitted an article at the fall Town Meeting that would have created a planning committee for a regional school arrangement, but it did not win majority approval. Board members said they intended to cooperate with the state agency, which controls school construction funds.

Jennette Barnes can be reached via e-mail at jennettebarnes@yahoo.com.
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