Snoonian, Ouellette Vie for Adams Selectman's Seat
ADAMS, Mass. — Newcomer Jeffrey Michael Snoonian is challenging incumbent Michael Ouellette for a three-year selectman's seat in Monday's election.
Snoonian, 41, of 1 Berkshire Square, is originally from Lawrence, but has been visiting Adams for years became a permanent resident last year.
"I came up here not knowing a lot of people, and even though I wasn't born here, they treat me as such," Snoonian said. "I really do feel a civic duty to give back, and now that I'm here full time I want to get involved."
Although new to politics, Snoonian has worked in construction for nearly 20 years. After selling his house and business, he decided to permanently move to Adams.
Snoonian believes that he can bring a new perspective to the Board of Selectmen, which is currently comprised of longtime residents.
"I definitely think bringing in a different perspective, along with the other four guys on the board who have grown up here, helps," he said.
Snoonian wishes to make Adams more attractive to families as a place to live. He does not foresee large manufacturing jobs arriving, but rather sees Adams as a good place for people to commute from.
"In Adams, right now, we need to make it much more attractive for families to live in so even if they might work in Lenox or Bennington, they would want to settle down in Adams," he said.
Snoonian said he sees the budget cuts in the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District as a main issue in the town and region.
"The school budget keeps getting cut, which is a big concern and when the time comes it seems to get cut again so that will probably be priority No. 1 for me," he said.
Snoonian also sees plenty of tourist attractions in Adams that have been underutilized, and believes advertising areas such as Mount Greylock even more could be financially beneficial for the town.
"I'm big into tourism," he said. "The mountain to me is underutilized and is a big selling point."
Ouellette has been on the board since 2008, and is completing his second three-year term.
"I have lived here all of my life," Ouellette said. "My parents lived here and my grandparents lived here, so I have roots here, and I am committed to the town."
Ouellette was a town meeting member for 18 years and had been a member of the Zoning Board for 10. He currently is a delegate to the Metropolitan Planning Organization and a member of the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority advisory committee.
An engineer, he retired from the former GE in Pittsfield after 34 years. He has also worked in real estate development and taken part in land subdivisions in Adams and Lanesborough.
He also thinks the town can take greater advantage of Mount Greylock through the Greylock Glen, thinking Frisbee golf courses would be a great attraction.
Ouellette said the technical abilities he gained from GE and working in real estate development makes him an asset to the Selectmen: "I think I bring a very broad talent to the board."
Ouellette said he was instrumental in getting the votes needed to hire current Town Administrator Jonathan Butler and "did his homework" on that vote by conferring with state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, for whom Butler used to work.
"I am not a rubber-stamp selectman, and I want to do what I think is in the best interest of the community," he said, adding, "I do my homework, and that's what it's all about."
He supports regionalization whenever possible to achieve efficiencies and cost savings.
"Anything we can work together with as a team with North Adams, Cheshire or Williamstown, we should try to do," Ouellette said. "I think you can get better services at a lower cost."
If re-elected, he would make sure an effective Department of Public Works director was hired for the now open position. He also would push for a clearer focus on the old middle school building and concentrate on solving the financial issues in the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District.
"I think that our school is suffering, and we need to do something there," he said. "I want to push to have our board work with the school board."
The election will be held Monday, May 5, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the town garage.