Mieczkowski loses 9th bid for Hadley Select Board, is trounced by write-in candidate for Planning Board seat

Staff Writer
Friday, April 12, 2019

HADLEY — Voters rejected John Mieczkowski Sr. twice at Tuesday’s town election, removing him from the Planning Board and preventing his return to the Select Board after an absence of 17 years.

For the Planning Board, write-in candidate Mark Dunn, of Highland Circle, received 900 votes, defeating Mieczkowski, of Sunrise Drive, who got 276 votes in seeking a second five-year term.

Select Board incumbents David J. Fill II, of Knightly Road, and John C. Waskiewicz II, of East Street, earned 1,076 and 972 votes, respectively, easily retaining their seats. Mieczkowski, who got 177 votes, lost for the ninth time in running for Select Board since being recalled in 2002.

As results came in at the polls at Hopkins Academy appearing to favor his victory, with just the formality of tallying how many write-in votes he received, Dunn, who was out of state on election day, sent an email to the Gazette expressing his appreciation for the “good hearts of Hadley.”

“I never doubted our moral compass,” Dunn said.

Dunn decided to enter the race after Mieckzowski came under fire in March for what many viewed as racist comments directed toward a business owner at a meeting.

“I think we’re all ready to move forward in a kind and respectful manner to guide development for the best Hadley today and in the future,” Dunn said.

Mieczkowski said the results of both elections didn’t surprise him.

“I was expecting that,” Mieczkowski said. “I did absolutely nothing for this campaign.”

Mieczkowski said that no longer being on an elected board will free him to form a watchdog committee, which he is tentatively calling Citizens for Accountability. That committee, he said, will document public meetings, raise questions to town officials and shine the spotlight on their decisions.

Alan Weinberg, treasurer for Dunn’s campaign, said Dunn was a serious candidate and did a lot of door-knocking and put out numerous lawn signs, in fact getting more requests from residents than he could fill.

Weinberg was joined by several other Dunn supporters who held campaign signs near Hopkins and handed out 300 stickers throughout the day for voters to apply to their ballots.

Fill, who was at the polls when the results were read by election warden Stanley Kostek, thanked voters. Fill said his goals for the next three years are to see the senior center, library and North Hadley fire substation projects to completion, and begin undertaking the challenge of improving the town’s aging infrastructure.

Elected to a one-year term last year, Fill said he took no chances in securing a full three-year term, observing that he stood out in the cold, damp weather for 12 hours.

Waskiewicz said he appreciates voters thinking he has done a good job over six years to let him serve another three years on the Select Board. But he acknowledged it will be difficult work, with a rising tax rate and the building projects to finish.

“There’s still a lot of work to do,” Waskiewicz said. “The work is really out for us, between the tax rate and the maintenance of buildings and infrastructure.”

The 1,241 residents who cast ballots represented a turnout of 32 percent of the 3,885 voters, easily surpassing the 25 percent turnout in 2018.

No other contested elections were on the ballot, with newcomers who won seats including Randall E. Izer for moderator for one year, Meghan L. Campbell for library trustee for three years and Richard J. Witkos for Housing Authority for two years.

Incumbents who won reelection included Richard S. Grader for a three-year seat on the Board of Assessors, Gregory M. Mish for a three-year seat on the Board of Health, Heather S. Klesch for a three-year seat on the School Committee, Sheila M. Konieczny for a one-year position as Elector Under the Oliver Smith Will, Diane M. Kieras-Ciolkos for a three-year seat on the Park Commission, Jessica V. Spanknebel for a three-year term as town clerk, David S. Moskin for a three-year seat as a library trustee, and William R. Banack and Richard T. Downie for three-year terms as constables.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.