Polak, Chamberland claim seats on Board of Selectmen

Polak, Chamberland claim seats on Board of Selectmen

Tanya Polak, left, and Ryan Chamberland.

BLACKSTONE – Tanya Polak and Ryan Chamberland are the newest members of the Blackstone Board of Selectmen after they beat out opponents in the annual town election on Monday, April 5.

Chamberland, a former selectman who served from 2012 to 2015, claimed victory over sitting Selectman Daniel Keefe, who has served since 2015. Chamberland won with 742 votes to Keefe’s 501, or 58.9 percent.

“Very excited to begin this next journey,” Chamberland wrote on Facebook to his supporters. “Thank you to all the Blackstone voters and all my supporters. Couldn’t have done it without you! I also want to thank Danny Keefe for his service to the town of Blackstone for the last six years.”

Polak beat out fellow political newcomer Ryan Barry for the seat recently vacated by former Selectwoman Taylor Greene. Polak, who claimed 822 votes to Barry’s 372, or 65.3 percent, said her win marks the start of a year of change.

“I’m so humbled by the chance to serve on this board but am most impressed with the voter turnout,” she wrote online. “We had a few hundred more (voters) than the past couple years to be at roughly 19 percent of voters out today, and that’s amazing. I had a great time hanging out with the other candidates, bracing the cold and building those relationships today.”

Chamberland and Polak both ran on platforms for change after a turbulent year in Blackstone politics. Last year, Keefe and Chairman Robert Dubois were both involved with an investigation into their actions regarding proposed CARES Act payments from which both their wives would benefit. Keefe, who was later found to have violated conflict-of-interest rules by an investigator, said at the time he was trying to prevent former Town Administrator Daniel Keyes from making unauthorized payments without the consent of the full board.

Keefe said in online comments to supporters this week it’s been an honor serving the community and hinted at a future run.

“Thank you for all of your love. See you next April,” he said.

Barry also hinted at future involvement in town politics and congratulated Polak and Chamberland on their wins.

In the election’s other contested race, Keri Gaudette defeated Timothy Howell for a seat on the Blackstone-Millville Regional School Committee with 838 votes to Howell’s 284, or 66.6 percent. However, Howell will likely still serve on the board after he received 51 write-in votes for a vacant seat that will expire next year.

The total turnout for the election was 1,259, or 19 percent of eligible voters. Last year’s turnout was 14 percent, and the 2019 turnout was 15 percent.