Behind the Numbers in the Falmouth Election

 

It used to be a given in Falmouth elections that as precincts one and five went (that's Woods Hole and North Falmouth), so went the town.  In Tuesday's election, new Selectman and East Falmouthite David Braga proved that old adage wrong.  Perhaps David represents the emergence of the "02536" as a political force in Falmouth. 

The results provided by Town Clerk Michael Palmer paint an interesting picture of the sentiment of the 25,000 registered voters in Town.

Four-term veteran Pat Flynn sailed to an easy victory and a fifth term in the corner conference room, taking her seat as one of our town's longest serving Selectmen, surpassing this writer's four terms, and approaching the vaunted Valiela territory of seven.  Pat did indeed get support from her base of precincts one and five, besting all opponents by a combined 300 votes in those two villages.  That was enough to carry her to victory, riding the wave of her traditional support.

The real story of the day, though, was the numbers coming out of the east end.  Although ousted veteran Carey Murphy hails from Waquoit and used to call Hatchville home, his long-standing residency in that part of town was never part of his political identity.  Unlike, say, Eddie Marks, who was always the guy from Teaticket, or Catherine Bumpus, who emerged and then perished based on her identity with Woods Hole, Carey was always an at-large kind of guy.  Ultimately, that may been part of his downfall.  He deserves a healthy dose of thanks, though, for nine hard-working and honorable years.

The real story from Tuesday is how one man united a zip code.  A look at the numbers reveals what could be a seismic shift in the local electoral scene and sends an important message to both incumbents and potential challengers.  Braga topped all candidates in precincts three, four, seven, eight, and nine, making a clean sweep of everything east of the Stop & Shop lights.  No longer can a candidate woo everyone southwest of the village green and north of Bourne's Farm and expect to sail to victory.  Braga proved that a base also exists where the strawberries used to grow.  It's about time.

The next few weeks will see how well the new classmates can play in the sandbox.  Our new Selectman rose to his position with a positive message of unity and transparency.  Both will be important as the board meets for the first time Monday night.  I sure hope that is carried out in their actions and we don't get, for instance, an instant visit from the troublesome issues of the last year.  Neither the newly constituted Board nor a community in need of healing would do well to rehash George Morse's saga, or any of the other scraps and scrapes from our recent past.  I saw a message on Facebook from David's sister and campaign manager Darlene that team Braga headed over to the Nimrod on election night to congratulate Pat and pledge cooperation. That is a good sign.  No journey was ever charted by looking in the rearview mirror.

Other numbers from Tuesday presented some interesting food for thought.  As another local leader from the east end who will soon ponder his future, Brent Putnam would do well to analyze the race for Town Meeting in his home precinct, where he placed sixth among the nine successful candidates.  His numbers were closer to the bottom than the top - and provide a wake-up call and a nudge for better behavior as he likely heads into a campaign year and a chairmanship.  In another intriguing race, soon-to-be retiring Fire Chief and potential Selectman candidate Paul Brodeur burned the competition in his race for Town Meeting, finishing a strong first and setting the stage for an all-east race next year with Putnam and Ahmed Mustafa. 

And so we embark on a new political year.  Let the games begin.

This column is reprinted from the Falmouth Enteprise.

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