Following a landslide victory in Tuesday’s Special Town Election, even normally composed Town Manager Michael Caira cracked a smile in the hallway of Town Hall as a group of residents and officials celebrated the voter decision.
But the celebration won’t last too long as one more critical hurdle remains to decide if the town will indeed pass a new Wilmington High School.
“People should not get complacent,” said Caira. “Those folks who are in support of the new school, and obviously there are many of them, need to go to Town Meeting for one last and important vote. Once that takes place, we’re on our way.”
During Tuesday’s election, the “Yes” votes won out by a count of 3,778-1,247, a total of about 75 percent support. The school must next pass by a two-thirds majority at Saturday’s Special Town Meeting, slated for 10:30 a.m. in the high school gym.
Though Superintendent of Schools Joanne Benton shared in Caira’s excitement, she said school officials also realize the process is not over.
“I feel nervous anticipation until Saturday is over with,” said Benton. “I was thrilled by the result, but we’re only halfway there.”
School Committee Chairman Margaret Kane was among the crowd of about 25 people who gathered at Town Hall and cheered as the results were posted.
“Not exactly disbelief, but I was feeling glad that the town came together and they did what I consider to be the right thing,” said Kane, who admitted that the number of ‘No’ votes was still a concern.
Town Clerk Sharon George said the total number of 5,025 votes cast was the highest turnout she has seen in her tenure. There are a total of 15,375 registered voters in Wilmington, which means about one-third of eligible residents weighed in on the school.
Caira said he was mildly surprised by how lopsided the result was, which played a part in his excitement when the decision was announced.
“It all came together,” said Caira. “When you feel good about something, it’s time to crack a smile.”