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Abington election brings change to town government

Some fresh faces will be helping to lead the Abington town government following Saturday’s election.

Voters opted for a challenger over an incumbent on the School Committee; welcomed newcomers to the Board of Health, Planning Board, and the Board of Assessors; and elected to fill a seat on the Board of Selectmen with a woman. The board has consisted entirely of men since 2008.

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Jonathan Mihal, 34, who works as a development coordinator at St. Bridget School, edged out School Committee chairwoman Jannette Cummings Leary, 770-731, according to unofficial election results.

Incumbent Ellen Killian garnered the most votes in that race, with 950.

“I’ll be the voice of the kids,” said Mihal, who attributed the use of Facebook and other social media to helping him win without having to spend significant sums of money to get his message out.

Mihal, who has taught in the Abington schools and elsewhere, said he wants to see if any money can be redirected from administration to those working directly with students.

“Are we wasting money? Maybe we’re not, but I need to know,’’ he said, in an interview on Monday.

Money and school matters are also a concern for Maureen Jansen, who is moving from an appointed position on the Finance Committee, where she served the last three years as chairwoman, to an elected three-year seat on the Board of Selectmen. She received 892 votes.

Jansen, a project and training manager for New York Life, said she wants to see the town plan further ahead. She also wants to see it keep an adequate amount of money in its stabilization fund, for rainy day expenses and to ensure favorable interest rates when it looks to borrow for such projects as construction of the proposed middle/high school.

Jansen said she thinks it was good that her election will add some gender diversity to the board.

“You want to have a representative board,” she said.

Incumbent Selectman Kenneth Coyle was reelected with 866 votes, while Rebecca Kanter finished out of the running with 755 votes. Kanter, a recent college graduate, had worked as a campaign field organizer for Boston Mayor Martin Walsh.

Incumbent Kevin Donovan chose not to run for reelection.

In other contests, Susan Ferreira-Emery, who owns a cake business and teaches food- handling classes, joined the Board of Health after receiving 825 votes, outpacing Edward J. Gordinier II’s 436 votes.

Richard J. Collins II, received 833 votes and will fill an opening on the Planning Board. Collins, who works for Propel Marketing and has worked for state senators Robert Hedlund and John Keenan, said he is interested in updating the town’s master plan, establishing regulations for locating medical marijuana dispensaries, and ensuring the town be proactive in dealing with Chapter 40B affordable-housing concerns.

Voters also gave the nod to three new people to sit as the Board of Assessors, after three members recently resigned in protest over not receiving a designation given to some part-time or unpaid municipal positions to exempt them from conflict-of-interest restrictions.

The new members are Kate Marini for a one-year term, Ann Welch for a two-year term, and write-in candidate Larry Keough for a three-year term.

Meanwhile, Shawn Reilly will continue as moderator and Leanne Adams as town clerk, both of whom ran unopposed.

Other successful candidates included Alex Bezanson and Robert L. Toomey Jr. for water commissioners; Tracy Remillard for the Park and Recreation Commission; Cynthia Coyle and Russell R. Forsythe for Veterans Memorial trustees; Betty Henderson, Barbara McLaughlin, and John O’Neill for trustees of the public library; and Lisa Bezanson for a five-year Housing Authority seat.

Jean Lang can be reached at
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