Longtime Canton board members reelected
The Town of Canton’s governing board has been through a lot in the last four years — with the 2021 flood and the 2023 closure of the town’s largest employer — but they must be doing a good job managing the chaos, as voters decided overwhelmingly to return Mayor Pro Temp Gail Mull and Alderman Ralph Hamlett for another term.
“I have been stopped on many occasions by people who said we were on the right track,” Hamlett said. “They approached me. I didn’t ask them. The comments are coming from all quarters. Surprisingly, some people I thought might say something different, didn’t.”
Mull led the ticket with 249 votes, followed by Hamlett with 219. Challenger Adam Hatton finished third of three with 150 votes. Mull also led the early voting totals, with 33 votes. Hamlett was next with 23, ahead of Hatton’s 16.
Hatton mounted a strong effort for a first-time candidate, but in the end, it wasn’t enough. His total left him with 23.5% of the vote, almost 11 points behind Hamlett and 16 behind Mull.
“We’re relieved that it’s over, and that everyone had enough confidence in us to vote,” Mull said.
The totals indicate strong interest in the race; in 2019, the last time Mull and Hamlett were up for election, Mull earned a total of 110 votes, with Hamlett pulling in 101. Both were unopposed, leading some to believe they didn’t need to show up at the polls.
This year, however, things are much different. The town is still working to recover from the floods, and the impact of Pactiv Evergreen’s March announcement that it would shutter the century-old paper mill at the heart of the town, which it did in June, means the town still has a lot of work to do.
Members of the governing board, including Mayor Zeb Smathers, Alderwoman Kristina Proctor and Alderman Tim Shepard will with Hamlett and Mull refocus on finding a solution to the town’s waste water treatment problem, which comes as a result of Pactiv Evergreen’s March 6 closing announcement.
“We have many projects half-finished, not started, nearing completion. We’re optimistic,” said Mull. “We have to think we have a bright future, because we can’t look back.”