MASSENA — It was a clean sweep for two Republican newcomers in their first run for a seat on the Massena Town Council.
In unofficial results Tuesday night, Susan Bellor received 1,334 votes and Robert Elsner received 1,070 votes, while Democrats Melanie Cunningham received 894 votes and Loren Fountaine received 875 votes. Mrs. Cunningham was seeking another term on the board. Councilman Thomas C. Miller did not seek reelection and Mr. Fountaine was running for the first time to take Mr. Miller’s seat on the board.
Mrs. Bellor, a former chair of the Massena Memorial Hospital Board of Managers, and Mr. Elsner, a retired diagnostic/cardiac imaging director at Massena Memorial Hospital, announced in February that they would be running on the Republican ticket against Mrs. Cunningham and Mr. Fountaine. Now they’ll take their seats on what had been a Democratic town council.
It was a somber scene at the Massena Elks Lodge, where the Democrats had gathered for the final results and saw Mrs. Bellor and Mr. Elsner capture every district.
“It is what it is. I can’t change any of that. I just wish the best for this community, for the town, for the people, and for the people at the hospital, too. Their jobs were on the line. I hope everything continues to move forward the way it does,” said Mrs. Cunningham, the first woman to serve on the town council.
Mr. Fountaine said Massena Memorial Hospital played a role in how the election turned out. Voters had been asked to allow the transfer of the hospital’s assets to St. Lawrence Health System.
“You never know what’s going to happen. We knew this was going to be a tough election. Public relations is big. We worked hard to change the narrative, but there was a lot of negative feelings about the hospital,” he said.
Although he didn’t win a seat on the board, Mr. Fountaine pledged that he would continue to work on one of his campaign agendas — fighting for living wage jobs.
“I’m not going to stop,” he said. “We’re going to continue to work on those things. There’s this election, but tomorrow we can move on because the most important thing is that next year Trump is no longer president.”
Mr. Miller said Mrs. Cunningham had served the board well during her tenure. “We lost a very valuable person in this election. I worked with her for a few years. She’s a special person. She works very hard for Massena. She believes in Massena, so let’s not give up tonight. Let’s reevaluate and get back on our feet,” he said.
He also applauded Mr. Fountaine.
“We lost another great person here. His heart is with Massena,” Mr. Miller said. “To lose this way is unbelievable. We will not give up this fight.”
Mrs. Bellor and Mr. Elsner will join Town Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy, Deputy Town Supervisor Albert Nicola and Town Councilman Samuel D. Carbone Jr. on the board.