By Andy McKeever On: 08:33PM / Thursday October 10, 2013
Selectman candidate Barbara Hassan and Tim O'Brien, who moderated the forum at Town Hall on Wednesday. Candidate Henry Sayers was unable to attend the forum.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Two local business owners are vying for the open seat on the Board of Selectmen.
Henry Sayers, owner of Sayers Auto Wrecking, and Barbara Hassan, owner of Barb Hassan Real Estate, are both running in next week's special election.
The seat is open after Robert Barton resigned to run for School Committee. His resignation was too late to fill the seat at the annual election this past spring.
A candidate forum was scheduled on Wednesday but Sayers was unable to attend. However, Hassan fielded questions for a half hour segment while a letter from Sayers was read.
When asked why residents should vote for her, Hassan said one word kept coming to mind — qualified.
Her job as a real estate agent over the past 25 years requires her to be up to date with the issues, Hassan said, and have a wide range of contacts in business and politics.
"I can seamlessly take on the responsibility left by the previous selectman because I've stayed current on the issues facing the town of Lanesborough," Hassan said, adding that she has increased the number of government meetings she has attended so if she is elected, she can hit the ground running.
She has been an active in politics but hasn't run for an elected office before. When the town hired a full-time administrator, she said it created a much more businesslike environment and she is seeking election to continue the transition.
"There has been a huge transition since the new town administrator came on and more transparency and accountability," Hassan said. "I really like that it is a businesslike environment."
She said she has a "business mindset" and the connections that come with it. When asked about improving commercial buildings, she said she has resources across the country she can ask for advice on, for example, a brownfields project.
Hassan said she has a strong relationship with the Berkshire delegation and the mayors of the the two cities — all of whom said they would be available to help in a situation.
"I am humble enough to ask for help all day long on any subject I don't know about," she said.
She said she has met with Mount Greylock Regional Superintendent Rose Ellis about the impending school project and is comfortable that the town and herself will receive plenty of information about that project as it moves along.
Hassan would like to merge various town departments into one, a move she says will create efficiencies. She has already put a year's worth of effort as a member of a committee researching that possibility and she hopes to complete it.
Sayers, in his letter, boasts similar experience in business. His letter focused on trying to control spending while expanding the tax base.
"Young families do not want to move into Lanesborough because of the high tax rate. Some of the committees are looking at current spending habits and ways we could save money. We have to continue to find ways to stretch dollars," the letter reads.
Meanwhile, attention needs to be paid to the town's infrastructure, Sayers' wrote, and that he would place priority on finding grants or bonds to improve the road systems.
"I believe I can work well with other board members and other departments by bringing common sense to issues as well as thinking outside of the box when needed," the letter reads.
The letter continues to say he would like to make town hall "more user friendly" and would work to resolve problems before they grow to become "major issues." He said he would be "fair" and "listen to everyone that has something to say."
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North Adams: Candidate forums are being broadcast live by WNAW at 8:30 a.m. daily Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 except Wednesday, when mayoral candidates Richard Alcombright, the incumbent, and challenger Robet Moulton debate live from 9 to 10.
Meet the candidates at the Elks Lodge breakfast on Sunday, Nov. 3.
The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
You may vote absentee: if you will be absent from your town or city on election day, have a physical disability that prevents you from voting at the polls or cannot vote at the polls because to religious beliefs.
Absentee ballots are available at city clerk offices until noon on Nov. 4.
Voter registration: The deadline to register or change in voter information for the November election is Wednesday, Oct. 16.
The North Adams city clerk's office will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 16.