Election Signals Shift in Balance of Power

Winners of the Blythewood Town Council election, Bob Mangone, Bob Massa and Tom Utroska, celebrate at a reception after their victory.

BLYTHEWOOD – With the balance of power at stake in the Blythewood Town Council election Tuesday evening, two of the challengers, Bob Massa and Tom Utroska, came away with a clear victory over incumbents Paul Moscati and Ed Garrison. Ernestine Middleton lost her bid for a two-year term to Bob Mangone. Middleton, who returned to Blythewood last year after an embattled two-year stint with the Arkansas Lottery, joined Moscati and Garrison on a platform based on the recent rapid expansion of construction of high-dollar facilities in the town park.

Massa, a CPA and self-described fiscal conservative, said he was confident the residents wanted a change in the Town’s direction.

“I think everyone wants a nice town and I appreciate what has been done to make it so,” Massa said. “But the financial slope was getting steep quickly and I and a lot of other residents were getting worried. I think we need to step back and, along with the Town’s CPA, Kem Smith, analyze our spending before encumbering the Town with more big debt.

“We have a Master Plan and I would like for us and the Town’s people to re-look at it before moving forward,” Massa said. “I want to make sure we are all on the same page, not just doing what a few leaders have decided is best for the Town.”

Massa, the leading vote getter with 195 votes, said he was “overwhelmed.”

“It’s just the start of the hard work, though,” Massa said. “Blythewood is growing. We have to not only manage that growth, but do so with financial soundness. I’m humbled by the vote of the people.”

Massa is the Financial Director of the City of Forest Acres. He serves on Blythewood’s Board of Zoning Appeals and is a Board member of the Blythewood Chamber of Commerce. A resident of the Oakhurst neighborhood, Massa said he plans to retire in January and focus on his duties as Town Councilman.

Utroska, a resident of Cobblestone Park, said he was “pleased that the voters in the Town have given me, Mr. Massa and Mr. Mangone the opportunity to serve in this capacity. I promise that we’ll do our best to fulfill our campaign platforms. Now, I’m looking forward to getting to work.”

A native of Canada, Utroska is retired from the Canadian National Railway and is a partner in a railway consulting firm. He is a member of the Town’s Board of Zoning Appeals, Chair of the Town Park Committee and is past President of the Town’s Planning Commission.

Both Massa and Utroska will serve four-year terms on Council. Bob Mangone will serve the two years left in Jeff Branham’s term following his resignation last summer for employment in another state.

Although Mangone ran on a separate platform from Massa and Utroska, he said he shares their desire to manage the Town’s growth appropriately and in a way that is good for the residents and businesses in the Town. He campaigned for fiscal responsibility, integrity of office and for targeted growth. Mangone said he wants to make sure the growth benefits the entire town and preserves its history, charm and values.

“I’m humbled by the confidence the voters have shown in me and I will work to follow through with everything I promised in my campaign. My door and my phone are always open. I plan to listen to what the residents have to say,” said Mangone who currently serves on the Town’s Board of Architectural Review and is Chair of the Athletic Fields Committee.

Councilman Ed Garrison, who has served two terms on Council, told The Voice Tuesday night following the election, “The election speaks for itself. I guess the Town has a new set of visioneers and I wish them the best and all that it holds for them.”

Councilman Paul Moscati and Ernestine Middleton did not return phone calls and emails from The Voice.

The newly elected Town Councilmen will be sworn into office at the next meeting on Nov. 25, which will be held at the Doko Manor in Doko Meadows. The public is invited to the meeting and swearing in ceremony.