Editor's Note: In the original article published on Nov. 6, James Contois was characterized as a "serviceman," which was meant to suggest that he served a particular institution or organization, in this case the Department of Defense, and not that he served in uniform. In this updated article, the word "serviceman" has been replaced with the word "employee" to clear up any confusion.
CLAREMONT — The Claremont City Council will begin 2020 by swearing in three new members following Tuesday’s municipal elections, with James Contois, Debora Matteau and Erica Sweetser winning council seats.
A total of 1,524 residents, approximately 24.7% of total registered voters, cast ballots to consider seven candidates running for four at-large council seats. Six candidates on the ballot Tuesday for Claremont City Council were incumbents, including Mayor Charlene Lovett, Assistant Mayor Allen Damren, Ward I Councilor Andrew O’Hearne and Ward III Councilor Jonathan Stone.
Fellow incumbent At-Large Councilors Abigail Kier and Nicholas Koloski secured their re-election with 708 and 984 votes each, respectively.
After being on the nine-member council, Kier feels “better positioned to make a difference and know what I can affect.”
For Koloski, serving on the council in 2020 was not in his initial plans.
“I was planning on retiring as 10 years of three to five-hour nighttime meetings, other board duties and daytime events take a toll on one’s life,” Koloski said in a piece published by the Eagle Times intended to inform voters of the candidates for city council. “People have asked ‘who is gonna look out for us?’... My answer to that question now is me.”
Two new additions to the council, Matteau and Sweetser, won their individual races for at-large councilor with 18.71% and 14.42% of the total votes cast.
“My first priority [will] be to get up to speed, listen and learn,” Matteau said in the aforementioned piece published by the Eagle Times.
As a sitting member of the city council, Sweetser will get the opportunity to tackle big issues, such as expanding on resources to combat substance abuse and revitalize downtown.
“I would also prioritize downtown,” Sweetser said in the aforementioned piece published by the Eagle Times. “It should be the heart of our city, the foundation of our prosperity.”
In the contested Ward II race, James Contois defeated David Pacetti for the council seat by a vote of 377 to 202. Contois, who received 65% of the votes, will replace former Ward II Councilor Scott Pope, who decided not to seek another term.
A former employee with the Department of Defense for 26 years, Contois will keep a well-tuned eye on the city’s budget and tax rate.
“If we intend to keep taxes level, then we must constantly monitor the city for wasteful spending, unwise projects or expenditures,” Contois said in the aforementioned piece published by the Eagle Times. “The city tax rate is the third highest in the state and I don’t know why, but I will find out.”
In addition to Pope, At-Large Councilors Claire Lessard and Kristin Kenniston chose not to run for re-election in 2019.
Approximately 10% of registered residents voted prior to 1 p.m., with a count of 166 ballots in Ward I, 252 ballots in Ward II and 186 in Ward III, according to polling location totals provided by officials.
Out of 19 total races, 13 went uncontested — meaning only one person ran for a particular position — and one race for Ward III moderator went without a name on the ballot. There were a total of 46 write-in votes, and the winner has not been announced at this time.
City residents from Wards I & II voted at Claremont Middle School, while Ward III residents voted at Disnard Elementary School. Voting stations opened at 8 a.m. and closed at 7 p.m.
A lone question placed along the bottom of Tuesday’s ballot — not just in Claremont, but in nine cities across the state — was a yes or no question regarding the potential construction of a physical location for individuals to place wagers on the outcome of sporting events.
“Shall we allow the operation of sports book retail locations within the City of Claremont?”
For communities like Claremont that passed the measure — by a vote of 777 to 536 — the company contracted by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission would be permitted to open retail gambling establishments in those cities. It is important to note that a vote yes does not ensure that a retail sports betting facility will be established in the city.
Although the question was limited to cities yesterday, retail locations for sports gambling is expected to be taken up by smaller municipalities around New Hampshire in March 2020.
In July, Gov. Chris Sununu championed and signed into law House Bill 480, which legalized mobile sports betting in New Hampshire through physical retail locations, stores where lottery tickets are sold and via mobile phone.