02/01/2012 at 2:25pm
The referendum on whether or not the Town should pursue bonds for up to $7 million for the purchase of a Town Hall was soundly defeated on Tuesday, with 40% of the registered voters on the island turning out to oppose it. According to the Lee Supervisor of Elections, the final tally – with 2,005 of the Town's 4,970 registered voters participating – was: 86.33 % or 1,731 against, and only 274, or 13.67% for the referendum. The only other election that saw close to a 40% turnout was the 2007 council election, where 39% of island voters voted in Larry Kiker over Garr Reynolds and Herb Acken over Pat Smith. That election, incidentally, also included the referendum to finance the Town's water utility - which passed by a 91.17% margin but included no price amount in the referendum language.
"I was glad to see the amount of people who turned out to vote,” said Mayor Larry Kiker. "We asked the question of what the residents wanted us to do with their tax money and it got answered. The council got a clear direction from folks that we need to concentrate on some areas to put the Town in position with the current lease as best we can. Hopefully we can look at something at a minimum of asking for the first right of refusal should the owners decide to sell.”
Kiker, who had said before the referendum was held that the council would move onto other priorities, reiterated that position when we spoke to him on Wednesday.
"We as a council had a list of priorities that we wanted to accomplish, and now we've done this one,” he said. "This helped us to focus, and now we will move on.”
Councilman Alan Mandel, who wrote a guest commentary two weeks ago in support of the referendum, said that he would like to proceed with the options left to the Town in reference to a Town Hall.
"I'd like to give a big thank you to everyone that voted,” he said. "We have several options left to us – to continued pursuing a short term lease, to attempt to negotiate a long term lease or to talk about eminent domain – though that is something to be very cautious with and is not something to discuss lightly.”