Candidates speak on online presence and voter involvement

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Candidates in the 2021 Town Election lined the driveway to the North Attleborough High School, the sole voting location. The election, held on April 6, saw contested races for the Town Council and Electric Commission. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

With the COVID-19 pandemic still a part of everyday life, campaigns have replaced meet and greets and door-to-door greetings with Facebook Live events.

For those running in the North Attleborough Town Election, the process of getting to know the voters has become a very different process. Andrea Slobogan—one of 12 candidates running for nine seats on the Town Council—said that e-mails and phone calls were a big part of the process. She added that a recent forum held on North TV on March 29 was a big help.

I think the community is awesome,” said Slobogan, standing outside the high school, the sole voting location. “People have an interest in what happens in North Attleborough and care who represents them.”

Incumbent John Simmons, running for re-election, said that he relied on his existing networks. It helped him to connect with the voters, as did the local media.

It helped you reach people you wouldn’t be able to reach,” he said.

Justin Pare, the current vice-president of the council, said that he has missed getting out and meeting the public. He said that outside of a Facebook Live event, he has relied on social media posts and signs to get the message out.

Outside of that, we missed out,” said Pare.

Another concern has been a sense of voter apathy. As of 3 p.m., only 863 voters made it to the polls, roughly 4 percent of the total registered voters. John Donohue, one of the candidates for Town Council, recalled his first time voting in the 1972 Presidential Election. He said his parents were both involved in politics, and instilled within him the belief that one has to be a part of the process.

My dad told me if you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” he said. “It’s kind of embedded into me.”

Simmons said that it’s the more local elections that have a direct impact on people’s lives. Pare said there isn’t as much interest in the election, and the focus has been on recovering from the pandemic.

You need to stress the importance of civic responsibility,” said Simmons. “You should want to be involved.”