It's not that he didn't think there was community support behind a full replacement of the beach substation and a major overhaul of the Winnacunnet Road station. Rather, his doubt came because there were already many other "big ticket" items on a packed, 41-article warrant, like a $4.85 million pumping station project and five union contracts.
Much to the surprise of Silver and many other Hampton officials, though, Hampton voters cast their ballots in a historic way Tuesday. Every single money article on the warrant passed along with nearly all of the policy and petitioned articles — a monumental outcome Silver and others said hasn't happened since before the change to an SB2 form of town meeting.
"It's really inspiring," said Silver. "I think this is a major turning point for Hampton. Over the last five to six years, it's been horrible. Some big articles would pass, but many would fail. I think for us as town employees — the firefighters and other employees in town — after a while you start to feel like maybe they don't care about us. I think this was a very overwhelming showing for us."
Only three of the 41 warrant articles on the Hampton town warrant failed — the beach sidewalk maintenance advisory article, a petitioned article essentially calling for the elimination of the in-house legal department, and a petitioned article that would've allowed businesses to run bingo and Lucky 7.
The Hampton, North Hampton and Winnacunnet school warrants saw similar across-the-board support, as the only article that failed in those entities was a proposed land purchase in North Hampton.
Roughly 12 hours after the polls closed, Dick Nichols, the chairman of the Hampton Board of Selectmen, said he was "still just very surprised that everything was supported."
Nichols attributed that support to residents' strong campaigns of support, as well as "concerted" efforts by selectmen and officials to show the tax rate would remain relatively flat through 2016 and that taxes would only go up an average of $61 per household this year if all the money articles were supported.
Still, that didn't mean he didn't have his doubts before Tuesday.
"To be honest I was a little bit concerned about how willing voters were to approve everything," said Nichols.
Nichols said he finds it "kind of weird" that "absolutely every single money article passed," and he said "doesn't have an explanation for that."
"We've kept taxes flat since 2007," said Nichols, noting that since around that time fire station projects have been shot down three times, as have other big items. "I don't know if it's because the voters are desensitized or something else. Maybe if you go so many years with increases, voters will vote everything down for years after that, and if you go so many years with a flat tax rate, voters will vote everything up."
Mary-Louise Woolsey and Brian Warburton, Hampton Budget Committee members whom have been publicly against the fire and Church Street pumping stations projects and other big articles, couldn't immediately be reached for comment for this story.
Silver said he thinks the warrant about-face has a lot to do with the work of the selectmen to convey the information, as well as residents' efforts to get themselves informed and try and help Hampton progress toward a better future.
"[We're] thrilled," said Silver of the various warrant outcomes. "Clearly this time people learned the process, spent the time to get to know the issues and educated themselves. They made better, more informed decisions. It's impressive."