STONY CREEK - Elections normally spawn heated campaigns dubious promises and tense vote counts.
But in the rural town of Stony Creek, life plays out differently.
Saturday, a full 18 days after the general election, former Stony Creek Highway Superintendent Zackary Thomas was apparently surprised to learn he had won an open seat for town assessor, although he hadn't campaigned for the post.
Thomas won the assessor post by three write-in votes, with no other votes cast for the office.
Thomas learned of his election win when Peter LaGrasse, Chairman of the Stony Creek Board of Assessors, called him Sunday morning, LaGrasse said. Saturday, LaGrasse had heard of the news from town Clerk Susan Harrington.
"I congratulated Zack Thomas Sunday and he reacted with total surprise - he had no idea," LaGrasse said. "I absolutely look forward to serving with him - Had I known that some people voted for him, I would have voted for him as well."
LaGrasse heard about the election win Saturday from Harrington when he dropped into the town hall.
"I wasn't aware there was an opening for assessor on the ballot, and I don't think very many people were aware of it either," LaGrasse said.
At the far right hand side of the Nov. 3 ballot for Stony Creek, a headline said "Assessor - Vote for One," but no candidates were listed underneath. No one had filed with the county to run for the post, which pays about $2,000 per year.
Zackary Thomas had been town Highway Superintendent from the early 1980s up to about 2001 when he was beaten by a slim margin. Since then, he had been an employee of the Hadley Town Highway Department until he retired about six months ago. His uncle is Frank Thomas, who serves as town supervisor.
Frank Thomas said Monday morning he hadn't yet heard whether Zackary Thomas was accepting the position as assessor.
LaGrasse said that Thomas hadn't yet officially accepted the post, and that would occur at the town's 2010 organizational meeting.
"Zackary is very knowledgeable about the town and he's popular," LaGrasse said.
The organizational meeting will be held either the morning of Monday Jan. 4 or Tuesday Jan. 5, Frank Thomas said.
LaGrasse said the open assessor seat was due to the expired term of Tara Tremaine Fisher, who ran for supervisor against Frank Thomas.
Carol LaGrasse, who serve on the board for nine years, credited Zackary Thomas for bringing the town Highway Department into the modern age, keeping comprehensive records and keeping the department working efficiently.
Peter LaGrasse said that serving as assessor requires a commitment to considerable training provided by the state.
A town assessor, however, unlike a town justice, can begin serving in the post and perform assessor's duties while taking the required schedule of courses, he said.
Decisions on a town Board of Assessors are made by consensus, LaGrasse said.
Efforts to contact Zackary Thomas, Harrington and Fisher were unsuccessful.