TEWKSBURY -- In the only contested race on the ballot in this year's town election, Jerry Selissen was voted in as the next town moderator over Doug Sears.
The low-turnout race, in which 1,571 votes were cast, featured three open seats, including moderator.
Finance Committee member Bruce Panilaitis, who ran unopposed for the Board of Selectmen, will take over what had been Sears' seat on the board.
Vinny Fratalia, a first-time candidate, fended off a last-minute write-in campaign by former Conservation Commission member Donna Robitaille to win the Planning Board seat vacated by Vincent Spada.
In the moderators race, Sears earned 640 votes, while 885 went to Selissen.
Before polls closed, Selissen, a former selectmen who said his community involvement began coaching Little League 36 years ago, promised to be an independent voice as moderator.
"I'm just concerned about the fact that all the selectmen, as well as the town manager, as well as Mr. Sears, are all focused on the town moderator position," he said. "I'm concerned that somehow the selectmen and the town manager want to control town meeting. I have a big concern about that, and my focus is the people."
Sears called Selissen to congratulate him shortly after the votes were counted.
"The people have spoken," Sears said. "We get the government that we voted for.
Incumbents re-elected without challenge were: Brian Dick to the School Committee; Charles Roux to the Board of Health; Patrick Joyce and Bob Homeyer to the Board of Library Trustees; and Louise Gearty to the Housing Authority.
For more on this story, see Sunday's Sun or visit http://www.lowellsun.com.