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Adams Selectman Nichols Opts Out Of Re-election Bid

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

Nichols served two nonconsectutive terms on the Board of Selectmen, in 2003 and 2010.

ADAMS, Mass. — Selectman Scott Nichols will not be seeking re-election.

The sports director at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts announced Friday that he would not run in the upcoming election.

 "After a great deal of thought I have determined due to my personal and professional commitments, I cannot devote the time to the office that the people of Adams deserve," Nichols said in a statement on Friday.

His departure means there will be no incumbents in the election. His seat and the seat of Paula Melville, who resigned from the board, will be on the ballot.

Both Nichols and Melville were elected in 2010, the second part of a massive turnaround on the board. In 2009, two incumbents were ousted by newcomers and Nichols and Melville continued that trend a year later — beating then Chairman Donald Sommer.

This is also the second time Nichols has left after one term. He also decided not to seek re-election in 2006, only to return in 2010.

"I believe there are other potential candidates that may want to run for office and I wanted to give enough notice so they have time to submit their paperwork," Nichols said in a statement Friday. "I want to thank everyone who supported me and wish the board the best of luck in the future."

Nomination papers are due in the town clerk's office by Monday, March 18, and so far Richard Blanchard and Joe Nowak have returned papers and are qualified to be on the ballot. Blanchard has run unsuccessfully twice before; Nowak is on the chairman of the Agricultural Committee and a member of the Conservation Commission.

Michael Young and Glendon Diehl also took out papers but have yet to turn them in. Last year also saw heavy interest for the position with five candidates vying for two seats.

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Adams Selectmen Forum 2012

Staff Reports
ADAMS, Mass. — The five candidates running for two three-year terms on the board of Selectmen debated the issues on Saturday afternoon at the Adams Free Library.  The election is Monday, May 7, at the town garage.

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Williamstown Selectmen Candidates Discuss Issues

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The two candidates for a three-year term for selectmen stressed at a forum on Wednesday night that serving the town was the most important factor in their runs.

"I think the best thing that people can do is exemplified by Justin [Adkins]," said Thomas Sheldon, chairman of the Selectmen, referencing his challenger in response to a question about how citizens can help the town. Getting involved, giving time and asking questions were the most important things, Adkins and Sheldon agreed.


'Williamstown is a perfect place for young people to start a business ... we have to keep building on that.'  — Justin Adkins
The half-hour conversation with Sheldon and Adkins was moderated by Mindy Hackner as a "Citizens in League" program for the Williamstown League of Women Voters. The forum and a following half-hour review of the warrant with Sheldon and Finance Committee Chairman Charles Fox were taped for broadcast on WilliNet.

"I hope the people of Williamstown are as impressed as I am by your desire to serve your community," said Hackner. "That's a remarkable thing and thanks to you both for mentioning that as your prime concern."

Adkins, assistant director of the Williams College Multicultural Center and a website developer for Brainspiral Technologies, moved to town about five years ago.

"One of the main reasons I moved to here is because I wanted to be somewhere where I could live according to the values that are most important to me," he said. "To be in a town where I can participate in all aspects of the town."

He's been involved with the Youth Center and high school, among other civic and community activities. His decision to run for selectman came on a rainy night last fall at Zuccotti Park with Occupy Wall Street. He was struck by the general assembly's similarity to town meeting: "It dawned on me one night ... that's why I live in Williamstown."

In response to questions about his youth, Adkins laughed that he's "inching up to 40; I look a lot younger than I am."

He stressed his experience at alma mater Marlboro (Vt.) College, which requires a lot of participation in governance, and his work with a large human services non-profit based in Texas. "I've held a lot of responsibility in my life," he said.

Sheldon, who was elected in his first run for selectman in 2009, has a 35-year career in the New York education system that saw him rise from intern to assistant deputy commissioner and then acting commissioner.


"It's been an interesting ride and, over the last year, a very exhilarating one." —Thomas Sheldon
"I have a longstanding commitment to public service and community," he said, but the demands of job and family limited what he could do. He moved to Williamstown a year before retiring. "I vowed that I would get more involved in community activity once I retired."

He immediately begin volunteering at the Milne Public Library and has since tutored at Brayton Elementary School in North Adams and become involved with Images Cinema, currently as chairman of its board, and with the Sustaining Educational Excellence Fund at the high school and with Higher Ground, which is working on affordable housing and aiding Spruces Mobile Home Park residents left homeless by Hurricane Irene.

"It's been an interesting ride and, over the last year, a very exhilarating one," he said of his three years on the board of Selectmen. "I think there are significant challenges yet ahead so I decided after a lot of thinking to run again for a second three-year term."

Among the challenges he sees ahead are the capital planning for a new police station, the library, road work, working with the Mount Greylock Regional School District on repairs or rebuilding the high school and, especially, increasing affordable housing.

"That's a huge piece of unfinished business that's important to making this community more accessible to people, more diverse," said Sheldon of affordable housing efforts "closest to my heart." "We need that variety in our town."

Adkins agreed that affordability was paramount, noting that the town's 5 percent affordable housing rate was half that recommended by the state — and it didn't include the Spruces retirement community.

That made it harder for young people in their 20s and 30s to find places to live in Williamstown, he said, talking of his own difficulties in affording a place to live.


Sheldon and Adkins shake hands after the forum.
"Our kids also need to see a way to stay in Williamstown ... something to stay here for," said Adkins, adding there's an entrepreneurial spirit alive in the land. "Williamstown is a perfect place for young people to start a business ... we have to keep building on that."

Sheldon said there have been a lot of missed opportunities and there was a need to make the town hospitable and attractive to businesses without compromising environmental imperatives.

"We also need to find the right balance point, generally speaking, between development and environment. We can't emphasize one to the exclusion of the other," he said, adding that for the forseeable future, "we will not be lacking for meaningful, challenging thought-provoking issues."

The election is Tuesday, May 8, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the elementary school gymnasium.
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Williamstown Results: School Debt OK'd, Gold Wins Moderator

Staff Reports

Unofficial Results

SELECTMEN (two elected)

 

Tom Costley

1,017

Ronald Turbin

1,007

Richard Haley Jr.
690

     

MODERATOR      (one  elected)       

 

                                 

 

 

      

Mark Gold    1,102             Frederick Leber 320

                              

Debt Exclusion for Remainder of the Roof Debt
for Mt. Greylock Regional High School

YES   1,020

NO      546

Debt Exclusion New Boiler and Repair of Locker Rooms
at Mt. Greylock Regional

YES  1,037

NO  528

Williamstown Elementary School Committee (two elected)

Margaret McComish 910

Valerie Hall   845

Huff Templeton III  453

Northern Berkshire Regional Vocational School Committee (one elected)

James Gazzaniga   863

Daniel Collyer  354

 1,632 people voted (36.2 percent of registered voters)

 WILLIAMSTOWN — Voters overwhelmingly backed two debt exclusions Tuesday, while the incumbents held on in the Selectmen race and Mark Gold won in a landslide for the open town moderator seat.

In response to a pair of ballot questions regarding the passage of Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusions to fund repairs at Mount Greylock Regional High School, voters answered with a resounding 'yes.'  According to unofficial results Tuesday night, 65 percent of voters answered 'yes' to Question 1 while 66 percent backed Question 2.

"It's a great thing," David Archibald, chairman of the Mount Greylock School Committee, said Tuesday night. "I think it's important for the school, the teachers, the parents and the students when the town supports them like this."

Gold, who will replace longtime moderator Stan Parese, received 77 percent of the votes against Frederick Leber. The moderator position is a three-year term.

"I'm really flattered by the margin," Gold said. "I'm looking forward to running a fair and open town meeting. I thought [Parese] was an outstanding moderator, and I hope I can serve the position as well as he did."

Leber, who ran on the platform of a more aggressive approach when selecting the Finance Committee, was disheartened by the margin of defeat.

"I'm very surprised," he said. "I thought I was going to win. Oh well, that's democracy in action."

In the Selectmen's race, incumbents Tom Costley and Ronald Turbin were re-elected to serve another three years. They each eclipsed 1,000 votes while challenger Richard Haley Jr. tallied 690. Haley said that running for public office was an exhausting process, admitting that he had trouble sleeping during the nights leading up to the elections.

"It felt like it was the beginning of a road race before the results came in, just all the nerves," Haley said. "It's worth standing up and saying what you believe. I did it for people who needed it to be done. I'm glad I did it."

Costley and Turbin both expressed excitement after Town Clerk Mary Kennedy announced the preliminary results Tuesday night at Williamstown Elementary School.

"I love being a Selectmen, and I look forward to serving for three more years," Costley, chairman of the Selectmen Board, said.

"I'm very gratified that the voters thought I did a good enough job in the past three years to give me another term," Turbin said. "[Haley] made it an interesting race. It's healthy to have contested elections. It encourages people to participate, and it brings out the issues."

In the other contested races:

-- Incumbent Margaret McComish and newcomer Valerie Hall won the two available spots on the Williamstown Elementary School Committee.

-- Incumbent James Gazzaniga was reelected to serve on the Northern Berkshire Vocational School Committee.
 

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Election Day in Williamstown

Patrick Ronan

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — As of 1 p.m. on Tuesday, just under 20 percent of registered voters had cast their ballots in the annual town elections, according to Town Clerk Mary Kennedy.

Polls close at 8 p.m. and all voting takes place at the Williamstown Elementary School. Check back later tonight as iBerkshires will post election results once they become available.

There are two debt exclusion items on the ballot and four contested races for town offices, including a three-man race — incumbents Tom Costley, Ronald Turbin and challenger Richard Haley Jr. — for two spots on the Board of Selectmen. A new town moderator will be elected, as well; either Mark Gold or Frederick Leber will fill the vacancy left by Stan Parese, who served the position for 12 years.

Kennedy said she expected bigger crowds for the morning and early-afternoon tallies, but she said it's still early. She pointed to a sticker on her shirt that read "I Voted Today," which is being handed out as voters leave the school.

"This helps a lot. Somebody comes back in the office and says, 'Oh it's election day. I'll have to vote after work,'" Kennedy said.

"My barometer for how busy an election is going to be is the absentee ballots, and I didn't have a big demand for them. But any time you have a debt exclusion of Prop 2 1/2, it usually brings in a crowd."

State Rep. and candidate for Berkshire County sheriff Daniel E. Bosley was outside of the elementary school on Tuesday afternoon, greeting voters and handing out fliers for Wednesday night's campaign kickoff event at the American Legion in North Adams.

"The people in Williamstown always come out for elections, so you know there's going to be a good crowd. You've got to start now. You can't wait until September."

 

Left, State Rep. Daniel E. Bosley stands outside of the Williamstown Elementary School on Tuesday. Above, candidates for the town elections are set up near the entrance of the school.

 

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State Election
Tuesday, Nov. 4

Voting is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Deadline to register or change party affiliation was Oct.15.


Candidates on the ballot in races for state office; all others on the ballot are unopposed. Links will take you to their campaign websites.

U.S. Senator
Edward J. Markey, Democrat
Brian J. Herr, Republican

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Charlie Baker & Karyn Polito, Republican
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Evan Falchuk & Angus Jennings, United Independent Party
Scott Lively & Shelly Saunders, Independent
Jeff McCormick & Tracy Post, Independent 

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Maura Healey, Democratic
John B. Miller, Republican

Secretary of State
William Francis Galvin, Democratic
David D'Arcangelo, Republican
Daniel L. Factor, Green-Rainbow

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Deborah B. Goldberg, Democratic
Michael James Heffernan, Republican
Ian T. Jackson, Green-Rainbow

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Patricia S. Saint Aubin, Republican
MK Merelice, Green-Rainbow

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