Nomination paper mixup shakes April ballot for Wareham School Committee

Swett mistakenly given papers for two-year seat
Mar 5, 2019

A mixup in nomination papers has changed the April 2 election ballot for School Committee, eliminating a contested race for a three-year seat and making the race for a two-year seat a three-way affair.

Geoffrey Swett, a veteran of the committee, had intended to run against incumbent Mary Morgan for her seat this spring; however, Swett was mistakenly given nomination papers for a two-year seat by Assistant Town Clerk Donna Rhodes back in January.

The mistake was not caught by Swett, who signed the papers to verify that were correct in February.

Swett secured the signatures of 66 registered Wareham voters to run, none of which noticed the mistake, either.

The mixup was only caught when Town Clerk Mary Anne Silva was preparing ballots, well after the deadline to return nomination papers had passed.

“We called the state to see if there was anything we could do,” Rhodes said. “But at that point it was too late.”

This mixup means that Morgan will now run unopposed and Swett will challenge newcomer candidates Apryl Rossi and Jennifer Bailey for a two-year seat left vacant by Rebekah Pratt in December. Pratt had stepped down from the position citing her family’s move to Carver.

On Jan. 24, Swett was appointed to Pratt’s seat for two months leading up the election by members of the School Committee and Board of Selectmen.

The two bodies made the decision in part so as not to give Rossi or Bailey and unfair advantage against each other when running for the same seat in April.

They were unaware that Swett would in fact be running for the same seat.

“I asked for papers for the three-year seat,” Swett said. “I didn’t even think to check after I had received and signed them. It’s unfortunate that three people will be running for the same seat, but it is what it is.”

Rhodes expressed her regret at the mixup, saying it had been “haunting her ever since.”

“Not a single person noticed,” she said. “I was just as shocked as everyone else.”

Rossi said she was hopeful for a spirited race this April despite the mixup.

“It’s an unexpected turn of events and it definitely feels like the election is a little lopsided now,” she said. “But in the end, the voters will decide on who they want.”

Bailey did not immediately respond to Wareham Week’s request for comment.