Two new members elected to utility district board

Fri, 10/08/2021 - 7:33am

The Block Island Utility District (doing business as the Block Island Power Company) will have a couple of new faces on its Board of Commissioners. There are five seats on the board, with staggered terms, and three of them came up for election this
year: Chair Barbara MacMullan, Treasurer Bill Penn, and Secretary Everett Shorey. Mary Jane Balser and Elliot Taubman are
also on the board, but not up for re-election.
New candidates were Tom Risom, John Warfel, and Tim Dowling.
The votes, cast by ratepayers, were due back by Sept. 30 at 4 p.m. and a count of the ballots took place on Friday, Oct. 1 at the
office. No one running for office took part in the count, which was performed by three volunteers – Hilary Transue, Keith Stover,
and Erin Petersen – and was overseen by Office Manager Tracy Fredericks and “observed” by The Block Island Times.

The counting was complicated a bit by the initial mailing of a ballot with a typo, necessitating the mailing of a second ballot. The second ballot asked people to  throw out the first one, but by then, several ratepayers had already mailed them back in. Fredericks said she got many calls and assured people not to worry, their votes would be counted no matter which ballot they used, and if they happened to vote twice, that too would be adjusted.
In order to adjust the totals, the ballots from the two sets of mailings were separated when the envelopes were opened. The corrected ballots were counted first, while the ones with the typo were sorted into numerical order. As the ballots were read off, the unique number assigned each one was also read off and recorded. That made it possible to see which accounts had voted twice and made it easy to subtract those votes from the total once all the votes from both sets of ballots were counted.
Some ballots had to be disqualified for various reasons – mainly people who chose more than three candidates. Some ballots
came with notes written on them – one so long that Stover told Fredericks she had a “love letter.”
The entire process took just under four hours.

In the end, MacMullan took home the most votes at 357, with Warfel coming in second (240), and Risom in a close third (237) for the available seats. Penn garnered 208 votes, Shorey 201, and Dowling 121.

In an email from BIPCo President Jeffery Wright that went out to all the candidates announcing the vote, the outgoing commissioners congratulated the incoming, and the incoming thanked the outgoing for all their hard work and dedication over the years. Penn, Shorey, and MacMullan have served on the BIUD Board of Commissioners since the utility district’s inception and before that as members of the town’s Electric Utility Task Group and BIPCo transition team.