Burns Joins Conway on Billerica Selectmen

April 7, 2019

BILLERICA -- Voters elected a mix of incumbents and challengers in the Annual Town Election Saturday.

Voters elected incumbent Kim Conway and Daniel Burns to the Board of Selectmen, according to unofficial results. Burns unseated incumbent George Simolaris.

Conway and Burns won by 2,706 votes and 2,525 votes respectively, over Simolaris and candidate David Gagliardi, who received 2,478 votes and 2,036 votes.

Mixed-use zoning was a hot-button issue this year as candidates and residents debated the need to preserve open space and prevent overdevelopment, and the need to attract businesses to town.

In particular, the Planned Urban Development Industrial Park overlay district proposed for Technology Park has been a point of contention. The PUD-IP proposal for Technology Park is heading to Town Meeting as a warrant article.

At the candidates debate on March 27, Conway and Gagliardi both said they were in support of the PUD-IP, saying it is important to attract new businesses and that companies are looking for mixed-use zoning. At the debate, Simolaris said he was against a blanket PUD and Burns came out strongly opposed to the district.

Voter Mary Riley, the mother of Planning Board candidate Michael Riley, voted for Conway and Gagliardi. Development is an important issue for her this year, she said.

“I want Billerica to grow, other towns have grown, we seem to be standing still,” Mary said.

Development was also a big concern for voter Dave Johnson, who said that much of the development in town has been “bad growth.” In particular, he said the proposed PUD-IP is “absolutely absurd.” Johnson voted for Simolaris and Burns, as well as Annette Famolare for the School Committee.

In the School Committee race, James Gately was re-elected, having received 2,810 votes. Famolare unseated incumbent Mark Efstratiou with 2,348 votes to Efstratiou’s 2,310 votes, according to unofficial results. School Committee candidate Johanna Wetmore received 1,509 votes.

Voter Taryn Gillis said she backed Famolare because Famolare would be a “fresh voice” on the committee.

Planning Board had a large race this year with five candidates vying for three, three-year terms and two candidates running for one, one-year unexpired term.

In the five-year race, incumbent Matthew Battcock, Michael Riley and Janet Morris won with 2,956 votes, 2,852 votes and 2,487 votes respectively. Defeated candidates James “Trek” Reef and Kevin Heffernan received 1,862 votes and 1,740 votes, according to unofficial results. Riley and Heffernan were sitting members on the Planning Board when they entered the race this year but were not considered incumbent candidates because they had been appointed to fill vacancies, not elected.

In the one-year race for Planning Board, voters elected Blake Robertson over Adam Vincent.

When polls closed at 8 p.m. on Saturday, of Billerica’s 28,022 registered voters, 5,298 cards were cast, bringing turnout this year to 18.91 percent, according to unofficial results.

The candidates could not be reached in time for the Sun’s print deadline.

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