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McSweeney out; Gately, McDaniel advance<

WOBURN - Three-term incumbent James McSweeney failed to qualify for the final city election, finishing third in the preliminary race on Tuesday for Ward 2 alderman by a scant three votes.

Former Department of Public Works Highway Foreman Richard Gately Jr. easily topped the ticket in Ward 2 with 253 votes, while political newcomer Wayne McDaniel earned the second spot on the Nov. 8 final election ballot with 145 votes.

McSweeney, who is serving his sixth year on the City Council, was third with 142 votes, while another first-time candidate, Cathy Peterson, was fourth with 45 votes.

A total of 586 of 2,936 of the registered voters in Ward 2, or slightly less than 20 percent, went to the polls on a gray, dreary Tuesday.

McSweeney blamed the weather for a low turnout, which he said cost him some votes.

"It was just a lousy day, but I still thought I'd make it into the top two," said McSweeney.

He has tasted the sourness of a close defeat before. In his first bid for election in 1997, McSweeney lost to Charles Doherty (now the Ward 1 alderman) by six votes.

Unlike that instance, McSweeney said he would not consider a recount this time.

"No, not with the new (optical scanning voter) machines," said McSweeney. "They're pretty accurate."

Another mitigating factor to McSweeney's vote count may have been a "groundwater problem" that he said occurred in the South End recently.

"We've had problems with the water in the South End for awhile, but it was bad timing for this one," he said.

He praised both of the finalists for running a good campaign and said he was proud of what he accomplished during his three terms on the City Council, the last of which will expire in January.

"Either one of these guys (McDaniel or Gately) will do a good job," said McSweeney. "I've known (Gately) for over 20 years and I've known (McDaniel) since he lived on Beacon Street. We're all pretty friendly.

"No one dug up any dirt, of course there wasn't really any dirt to dig," he added. "It was a good campaign. It was just a cold, long day."

Gately attributed his victory to "a lot of hard work and a good committee."

"I have a lot of good people working for me," he said, in an interview at the Shamrock Elementary School shortly after the vote totals were posted.

Along with his name recognition, Gately said the decisive factor was his emphasis on issues like clean water and taxes.

"A lot of people I talked to are looking for answers," said Gately. "My experience in the DPW gives me some insight into water quality and how to improve it.

"The water and sewer (rate) increases were also a big issue. They (constituents) don't like that," said Gately. "They see $9 million spent in the last five years on improvements to the streets, and only $250,000 of it (spent) in Ward 2."

He praised all his opponents for running a "nice, clean campaign" that focused on the issues.

"Mr. McSweeney was an excellent alderman," Gately said. "My very best to him and his family, and for the job he did."

While pleased to be one of the finalists, McDaniel acknowledged he has some work to do to close the 108-vote gap between him and Gately when the final election occurs in five weeks.

"I have to continue to keep walking the neighborhood and knocking on as many doors as I can," he said. "Hopefully, I can reach out to the people who supported Mr. McSweeney and Ms. Peterson and convince them to support me."

McDaniel's key issues remain water quality and affordable taxes while at the same time improving the city's infrastructure and providing good services, especially in the school system and maintenance of the streets. He is the father of three children who all attend the Shamrock School.

"I have to tip my cap to all three of the other candidates," said McSweeney. "Everyone ran a great, positive race. Mr. McSweeney is a good guy. I wish him well."

He also thanked his wife, Alison, for keeping his efforts focused on the election.

"If it wasn't for her, I don't know where I'd be," said McDaniel. "She's been my center and my source of moral support."

Despite her fourth-place showing, Peterson said she wasn't entirely discouraged by the results.

"(Running for office is) something I felt I should do," said Peterson. "I've been a voice in the community, and I want to continue to work to make Ward 2 better."

Asked if she would consider another campaign in the future, Peterson said she would "have to think about it."

Drapeau, Riley advance to finals<


WOBURN - Raymond Drapeau and Daniel Riley have won the 1-2 spots for Ward 7 Alderman for West Woburn.

On the outside is newcomer Charles Viola.

Drapeau and Riley now move to the Tuesday, Nov. 8 final election. The winner will succeed two-term alderman Thomas McLaughlin, who is running for mayor.

In a hotly-contested campaign, all three candidates were highly-visible for months in searching for votes. In the end, it was Drapeau topping the ticket with 233 while Riley took the second spot on the ballot with 209 votes. Viola earned 163 votes.

For Drapeau, it was a sweet victory; he has tried for the office twice before. And for Riley, in his first try at elected office, it was viewed as something to build on.

Drapeau, for example, took Precinct 1 (Revere Road/Russell St. area) 128-71, while Riley took Precinct 2 (the south section of Lexington St./Waltham St.).

"I'm overwhelmed by the results," said Drapeau outside the poll at 8:15 p.m. at the old Reeves School last night. "I am really energized by it all."

For Riley, who served six years on the Board of Appeals until recently, said, "For the first time out I'm happy. We all did work very hard."

Also, Riley, who was an appointed official, said, "It was all quite an experience. The entire process is a lot harder than I thought."

Both Drapeau and Riley will assume their places tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Joyce Middle School for a political forum sponsored by the Woburn Business Association and the Social Capital Initiative.

Drapeau topped the ticket on the strength of his campaign and a host of issues, such as keeping Woburn affordable for all its citizens and maintaining a high quality of city services.

Riley relied on the strength of his government experience and his diligent campaign effort.

Both were highly visible in neighborhoods and around the Four Corners area over many weeks.

Drapeau also had a platform of giving children a safe, nurturing environment at school, improving the appearance of the streets and green spaces, as well as protecting west side neighborhoods from large developers.

Drapeau has been a Woburn resident for the past 26 years and is married with two children, 17 and 21. He is the manager of OTC Department at Invensys ENE, Inc.

He received a B.S. in Business Management from Emmanuel College.

High on the list of his activities has been his being co-chair of the Reeves and the Joyce Middle School councils.

He worked on a theme of "Let's Continue Good Leadership."

Drapeau is a resident of the Whispering Hill Road area while Riley is a Silvermine Road resident.

Riley, a Woburn native, is married and has three children. He graduated from Newbury College and Boston State College and served in the U.S. Marines from 1968-1970.

Riley has strong credentials with the youth as a coach and director of Pop Warner football, as well as Woburn Youth Hockey. He was a Woburn Little Coach and Senior Softball manager. He's also been a Woburn Recreation Dept. basketball coach as well as a basketball coach at the Boys & Girls Club Biddy League.

Viola, a 2003 graduate of Minuteman Regional High School, is expected to graduate this year from the Criminal Justice Department at Middlesex Community College. He ran a strong campaign under the slogan, "A young person with young and innovative ideas."

While there were no problems inside the Ward 7 polling location, voters did encounter some parking issues at the Reeves School early in the day, due to the concurrence of an art show in the building.

Two voters called City Hall to complain about the situation, according to City Clerk William Campbell, who notified the police department of the inconvenience. There were reportedly no problems after the art show ended in the afternoon.

There wasn't however, much that could be done about the parking problem until the art show ended late morning.

U.S. Sealcoat special permit endorsed<


WOBURN - In a 9-0 vote, the City Council unanimously approved a special permit allowing an Industrial Way business to store and park snow removal equipment at it's facility.

Voting at its last September meeting to continue the hearing for U.S. Sealcoat, Inc. on 39 Industrial Way, the City Council had originally scoffed at approving the special permit because the Planning Board issued an unfavorable recommendation for the request and no parking plan was available for the property.

However, earlier this week, the Planning Board reversed its decision and endorsed the project, citing a misunderstanding about the nature of the proposal as the reason for the earlier denial.

Specifically, the original application for the special permit had detailed the company's plans to bring in snow removal equipment from Connecticut for 17-vehicles at the site.

According to Planning Board Director Ed Tarallo, with an attorney for the Industrial Way business absent at the hearing — the consequence of yet another miscommunication — board members denied the project on the grounds that the site lacked adequate parking.

"They did in fact have 17 vehicles. However, they were already at the site. All they were bringing in from Connecticut was snow plowing vehicles to attach to the vehicles. So there was actually no net increase in vehicles," Tarallo explained.

Addressing the City Council prior to their own endorsement of the project, James Mears, the petitioner's attorney, offered assurances that all snow removal equipment shipped in to the city would be transferred to an off-site location after the plowing season.

"I'm comfortable with moving forward tonight, but I do have some conditions," said Ward 6 Alderman John Ciriello, who attended the Planning Board meeting prior to the City Council hearing.

"I want to make sure that U.S. Sealcoat doesn't use residential roads and I hope people support that," the City Councilor added, proposing a condition that prohibited the business from trucking down School Street, Merrimac Street, and Mishawum Road.

Although the City Council had also expressed concern with the business's upkeep of its landscaped grounds, a second condition was imposed forcing U.S. Sealcoat to keep the areas, "regularly maintained in a proper and reasonable manner".

Thanking the City Council for its endorsement of the proposal, Woburn Business Association Executive Director Paul Meaney, Sr., who had accused the council of dragging its feet on the proposal last Sept., backed off some of his earlier criticisms.

"I want to thank you for correcting some of the errors made by other agencies," said Meaney.

A list of conditions imposed on the special permit are as follows:

* That all vehicles at the site will be registered within the City of Woburn;

* The Planning Board shall retain jurisdiction over the fencing and landscaping plans at the site;

* Company vehicles are prohibited from parking on Industrial Way

* The special permit is exclusive to U.S. Sealcoat, Inc.;

* No U.S. Sealcoat or other trucks associated with the business shall use Merrimac Street, School Street, or Mishawum Road;

* All landscaped and grassed areas of the property are to be regularly maintained in a proper and reasonable manner.