Watertown voters will have one big race to follow in this fall’s Town Election, Meanwhile, the other elected posts have uncontested races, but there will be some new faces. Seven candidates are running for the four Councilor at-large seats on the Town Council. There will not be need for a preliminary election in September. Three incumbents will be running in the Councilor at-large race: Tony Palomba, Caroline Bays and Anthony Donato. The fourth seat was vacated by Michael Dattoli when he moved out of town, and his term was filled by former-Councilor Susan Falkoff.
The open At-Large seat on the Watertown Town Council has drawn significant interest from potential candidates, meanwhile, there are not enough candidates to fill the openings on the Board of Library Trustees. On Nov. 5, 2019, Watertown residents will vote for Town Council, School Committee and Library Trustees. Eight of nine Town Councilors have taken out papers to run for Town Council, and the last seat is currently filled by a temporary councilor. Former-Councilor Susan Falkoff agreed to fill the remainder of the term left vacant when Michael Dattoli left town, and she agreed not to run for reelection.
A lot of money was raised and spent on the 2015 Watertown Election. The Watertown School Committee voted to request a pay raise for its members on Monday night, and the increase would not take effect until the next term. The pay hike would be from $3,200 a year to $4,500 a year, but the request must first be approved by the Town Council. The request came because School Committee members who have to find childcare during meetings say the pay does not cover that cost. “After everything is taken out, we get less than $200 a month,” said School Committee member Lily Rayman-Read.
The School Committee balked at using funds remaining at the end of the year on two vans, at least for now, but approved spending money to prepay special education tuition and to add funds to the Town’s Special Education Stabilization Fund. The proposal came Monday night, at the last planned School Committee during Fiscal Year 2018, and if funds are not spent or designated they go back to the Town’s general fund. The Watertown Public Schools is projected to end the year with a $785,928, said School Committee Vice President Kendra Foley. The surplus came about due to lower than expected special education costs, vacancies left unfilled and hires that were not made, Foley said. The School Committee’s Budget and Finance Subcommittee discussed what to do with the funds at a prior meeting, and proposed using $400,000 to prepay special education tuitions for the first three months of the next fiscal year, put $200,000 into the Special Education Stabilization Fund and purchase two 12-seat vans (10 passengers plus the driver and the front passenger seat) with $100,000.
In the wake of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla., the Watertown School Committee passed a resolution asking for strengthening gun control laws and improving mental health services for students. Also, some students at the high school will have their own response to the shootings.
The School Committee began its meeting Monday with a moment of silence for the 17 people killed during the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Feb. 14, 2018. Later in the evening, the School Committee unanimously passed the resolution at Monday night’s meeting. The resolution calls for State and Federal lawmakers to support laws and regulations that:
Insure thorough background checks and waiting periods before adults can purchase or own guns
Prohibit the presence of guns on school property, unless by a law enforcement officer
Ban the sale of semi-automatic, assault-style weapons as well as high-capacity
magazines or clips
Strengthen counseling and mental health services for students
School Committee member Lindsay Mosca said she thinks that the resolution was the right step for the board to take, and said that she does not see it as a political issue but one of concern for students’ safety.
With the new term starting for the Town Council and School Committee, both boards elected their officers and announced committee assignments during their first meeting in January. The Town Council unanimously approved District C Councilor Vincent Piccirilli to another term as Vice President at the Jan. 9 meeting. On Jan. 8, the School Committee voted to appoint John Portz to another two years as Chairman.
Recently elected Watertown officials will be sworn in during the Watertown Inauguration on Jan. 2, 1018. The inauguration ceremony will be held at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal St., on Tuesday, Jan. 2 at 7 p.m. A reception will follow. The following elected officials will be sworn that night:
The President of the Town Council and Member of the School Committee – Elect
Mark S. Sideris
The Members – Elect of the Town Council
Caroline J. Bays
Michael F. Dattoli
Anthony J. Donato
Lisa J. Feltner
Angeline B. Kounelis
Vincent J. Piccirilli, Jr.
Kenneth M. Woodland
The Members – Elect of the School Committee
Amy B. Donohue
Lindsay Jean Mosca
John H. Portz
Lily R. Rayman-Read
The Trustees – Elect of the Free Public Library
Michael J. Hanlon, Jr.
Daniel E. Pritchard
Anthony Donato won the race for Watertown Town Councilor At-Large by nearly 400 votes, but he did not win every precinct in Tuesday’s Watertown Town Election. See how the candidates for Council and School Committee fared in the precinct-by-precinct results. In the race for the four Town Councilor At-Large seats, Donato got the most votes in seven of 12 precincts – 1, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12 – while second place Caroline Bays won three precincts – 2, 4, 9. Third place candidate and incumbent Tony Palomba won Precincts 3 and 5. Donato’s best showings were on the west side of town – precincts 10-12 – where he won each by at least 85 votes, and precinct 10 by 134 votes.