Mark Santos easily wins Pelham Select Board seat
PELHAM — Mark Santos, a first-time candidate for public office, scored a commanding victory to fill the vacant seat on the Select Board in a special election Saturday.
Santos won with 85.5 percent of the vote, defeating Kathleen Mailhot 224-38. “I’m really humbled by the number of people who came out and got involved in this race,” Santos said after the result was announced. “One man told me today that it was the first time he had ever voted for a Republican.”
Turnout was 26 percent of the town’s 996 registered voters. “For a local, single-issue vote like this, that’s a very good number,” said Town Clerk Kathleen Martell. “We’re very pleased to see that.”
Santos fills the vacancy left on the board by Edward Martin who retired in September.
Santos campaigned on a platform of controlling municipal spending and increasing efficiency in town government, pointing out rising costs associated with Pelham’s elementary school as an example.
“As a rural, residential community, we’re limited in how far we can boost revenue, so we have to spend carefully,” he said. “At the school, we’ve got to figure out how to increase our student population and reliably fund all the programs they need, and we have to look beyond raising property tax rates to do.”
Santos said he would focus on the challenge of increasing revenue for the town without changing the character of the community.
“Bringing in more business would require rezoning available properties and using eminent domain to free up space, and that’s expensive and time-consuming,” he said. “I think that most people want to preserve Pelham the way it is.”
A property manager, Santos, 52, is a newcomer to Pelham. “I lived in Phoenix, Arizona, for most of my life, and I only moved here seven years ago,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve ever run for anything, at least officially.”
Mailhot, 50, was elected to the School Committee in May and said she ran for the Select Board to “take on a bigger role in serving the town.”
In a statement issued after the results were announced, she wrote: “I congratulate Mark Santos as the new Selectman for Pelham. I will continue to serve as a member of the Pelham School Committee and look forward to working with him and the present board members.”