Casting close to 800 votes—more than twice as many as in the last election in 2009—Jamaica Plain residents elected a new Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council Sept. 24.
The Council seats 20 members: five from each of three “areas” of the neighborhood and five at-large, or neighborhood-wide, members. There were not enough candidates to fill all the seats in the Area A and Area B races this year, so everyone who ran in those races was elected. One newly elected council member, Brian Squadrille, resigned prior to the new JPNC’s first meeting Sept. 27. The council will appoint members to fill the post-election vacancies in those areas in the coming months.
The new council features a lot of new faces. Only seven of the twenty sitting council members ran for reelection.
No incumbents ran in Area A (Egleston/Hyde/Jackson Squares). The new neighborhood council members for that area are Oliver De Leon, Arazeliz Reyes, Jeffrey Wiesner, and Squadrille, who resigned.
In Area B (Eastern JP), David Baron and Jesse White were re-elected.
In Area C (Western and Southern JP), incumbents Andrea Howley and Karley Ausiello were reelected, and newcomers Ken Samza, Hyun Shin and Benjamin Day got seats. Christian Young also ran.
Incumbents Red Burrows, Francesa Fordiani and Michael Reiskind were re-elected in the at-large race, as were new council members Joseph Wight and Martha Rodriguez. Richard Parritz also ran.
Howley, who chaired the neighborhood council during its last two-year session, told the Gazette that she considers the high turnout a validation after a controversial year for the JPNC. “I definitely think the turnout was a validation that, to many people, the council is relevant,” she said.
Since Whole Foods Market announced it was opening a store in Hyde Square last January, the JPNC has been at the forefront of an ongoing community debate, with many supporting and many opposing the new store.
At least two of the newly elected JPNC members, Day and Rodriguez, have been actively involved with the anti-Whole Foods group Whose Foods? Whose Community? The Coalition for an Affordable and Diverse JP. Squadrille has also expressed opposition to the new store. Parritz, who mounted an unsuccessful bid for an at-large seat, is a vocal supporter of Whole Foods.
Howley told the Gazette that a JPNC committee that has been attempting to negotiate a “good neighbor” agreement with Whole Foods will report back at the JPNC’s Sept. 27 meeting. That meeting will be a joint meeting of the old and new councils.
Sandra Storey, a member of the five-person ombuds board that oversaw the election told the Gazette that day went off almost flawlessly. “It went very well. It was very busy,” she said.
Between 45 and 50 volunteers staffed the polling places at the Forest Hills T Station, J.P. Licks on centre Street and Stop & Shop in Jackson Square throughout the day, she said, and another 15 helped count ballots.
There were a few small snafus throughout the day, Storey said, including running out of ballot envelopes for a time at JP Licks, but balloting was not significantly interrupted throughout the day.
Of the 789 ballots cast, 49 were fully or partially disqualified, she said. Twenty people voted in the wrong area, so only their at-large votes were counted. Another 29 ballots were disqualified because voters did not provide complete name and address information.
Correction: This article previously stated that the last JPNC election was in 2007. It was in 2009.