There were two different ballots distributed to voters on February 25: white ballots for the tiebreaker vote for one seat on the Water Pollution Control Authority, required by State Statute, and yellow ballots for referendums on two questions concerning Town property.
For the choice on the white election ballot, the initial result, on November 5, was 1,483 for Chris Rago and 1,484 for Scott Guilmartin. (Neither were incumbents.) That close vote required a recount, which came out a tie. Candidate Guilmartin appealed, but a Superior Court judge declared the recount valid, and the revote was scheduled. About 25 percent of the Suffield electorate had participated in the November 5 election for town officials that produced the tie; about 19 percent voted in the revote 16 weeks later. The result was a 1.7 to 1 win for Rago:
The yellow referendum ballots were handed (or mailed) to Suffield registered voters plus anyone who owned real property in Suffield assessed for at least $1,000, who are eligible whenever a vote involves at least $25,000 in Town-owned property. The two Yes or No referendum questions had been discussed at some length at a Town Meeting on February 20, with pro and con sentiments strongly expressed. But the Board of Selectmen decided to gage public opinion more fully in a referendum about 1: Rescinding the Town’s 2015 vote to repurpose Bridge Street School as a community center and 2: Exploring other options for relocating the Town highway garage to allow redevelopment of its land on Ffyler Place. The results were:
2: Relocate Garage?
The Yes vote on rescinding the Bridge Street School community center project was stronger, though with less voter turn-out, than the modest affirmative repurposing vote in 2015. The present status of the old school building is closed and condemned by the Town Building Official for environmental and structural reasons.
In response to the highway garage vote, the Public Works Department is now working on fulfilling the needs of the present garage with new roofing, a wash bay, building some “cold storage” space, and other updates. Some possibilities for cosmetic improvement with plantings have been suggested.