Courtesy Jason Wright / Appen Newspapers
The smoke has cleared in Milton following an election campaign that seemed as though it could turn into a professional wrestling match at any minute - and there is a new member coming to City Council.
Joe Longoria defeated incumbant Tina D'Aversa by a margin of about 60 to 40 percent Nov. 3, putting an end to the most publicized race of the campaign season. All that press was due to D'Aversa sending Longoria taxpayer funded e-mails urging him to drop out of the race and a subsquent ethics charge against her from former Councilman Neal O'Brien.
Longoria will join in January sitting council members Bill Lusk and Karen Thurman, who were voted in by similar margins.
D'Aversa, Al Trevillyan and Bernard Wolff promoted themselves late in the campaign as a slate, with fellow council members Julie Zahner Bailey and Alan Tart supporting their bids. Lusk and Thurman were supported by Mayor Joe Lockwood, who also backed D'Aversa. Lockwood ran unopposed.
The morning after his win, Longoria said it couldn't be chalked up entirely to D'Aversa's disastrous e-mails and all the bad press that followed.
"Obviously it factored in some," he said. "We won by a pretty good margin, so I don't think you can account for the gap strictly based on ethics issues."
Longoria said instead that "most of Milton is ready to listen to something new."
"I think that hit on a couple a key elements that got people thinking and wondering," he said. "The first is trying to imagine a Milton that isn't making every single decision based on this idea of density of development."
Throughout the campaign, the losing slate promoted their standing as the so-called "protectors" of Milton and accused the others of consorting with developers to bring big business and sewer into the city — a touchy subject that never seems to totally go away, despite it being put to rest last September.
"Real early on, people were thrown into two camps — either you were pro-development through real high density or you weren't," Longoria said. "The real concern has to do with the health of Milton as a city based on our revenue and our ability to grow based on that revenue, our ability to provide services based on that revenue – all while keeping Milton the way that it is today."
Lusk chalked up his win to name recognition and what he deemed "negative" campaigning by Trevillyan. He said the tenor of this year's race was entirely different from when he ran in 2006.
"That all backfired. I think people in this city are sick of negativity, the name calling and slander," he said. "They're just as anxious as we are to move the city forward and cut out this childish, sophomoric behavior."
Thurman said she believes voters wanted someone with experience, a strong point she campaigned on throughout the race in her bid against Wolff. The councilwoman agreed with Lusk, as well, and said she tried to keep things positive in the campaign.
"People understand we need leadership that's reasonable and sees the whole picture," she said. "Leadership that isn't obsessed with just one part [of running a city]."Lusk and Thurman said their next four years will involve implementing the still-in-process comprehensive and transportation master plans and getting Milton a working and expanded parks system — all on a shoestring budget.
"It's not going to be easy," said Thurman. "We've got to be creative."
Longoria agreed, and said he's excited for the "work at hand." That was a sentiment shared by all the winners."We've got to get our teeth into some of the real issues out there," said Lusk.