In a `Squeaker,' the NO Votes Carry the Day


Above, Town Clerk Nancy Danello, standing, checks her figures just before announcing election results last night.

It was a battle begun formally more than a year ago with the organization of One Franklin, a group determined to increase school funding. Spearheaded by Ruthann O’Sullivan, a school committee member and tireless advocate and with a substantial donation and political clout from State Rep. Jeff Roy, the One Franklin team looked to be in the lead for a while.

But when an energized Vote No group surfaced, offering an online tax impact calculator that made the tax and cost burden on households its focus, the momentum seemed to shift. Weeks of early voting had already yielded perhaps 4000 early  votes in total. But Tuesday’s good weather and large numbers of motivated voters on both sides brought out the crowds, more than 5000 additional voters.

Early in the morning, “No” supporters discovered that the DPW had cordoned off nearly all the grassy areas close to the polling places – a customary location for candidates and political groups to meet and rally. The single space not cordoned off filled by the “Yes” supporters well before the polls open. Asked about the peculiarity of every other available spot being cordoned off, and a “Yes” supporter just commented, “The early bird gets the worm.”

The rest of the day consisted off each group, a tiny No contingent and a much larger Yes contingent, holding signs and chatting with voters. But there were some tense moments. After school got out, with the Yes side reinforced by 50+ sign-holding students, one father of school age children on his way to vote singled out an elderly man, not holding a sign, and said “I know why you are here, your kids took advantage of the schools and now you don’t want to pay to help these kids,” he said, gesturing at the younger Yes sign holders. After trying to argue with the dad, the exasperated elder turned to the No voters, and said “give me one of those signs,” and stood with them for much of the afternoon.

At one point, Yes leader, O’Sullivan, put aside politics, took a break from the campaign, and brought bottles of water and snacks to the small No contingent, a gesture that was gratefully acknowledged.

After the polls closed, dozens of Yes supporters, including many educators and town officials, waited for Town Clerk Nancy Danello and her team to finish the count. Finally, around 8:20. Danello announced the “unofficial” totals: 5542 Yes....and 5778 No.

That close and stunning defeat clearly shocked the Yes supporters, many looked ashen and there were some tears. The small contingent of No supporter clapped for a second or two but then quieted down in the face of the large, crestfallen Yes crowd.

A planned student walkout during the morning in support of a Yes vote, reported on by   Boston 25 news, never materialized.

Above, a partial view of the Yes supporters around 3pm Tuesday.

Above, No supporters around 3 pm.

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