Patton Hopes to Bring Compassion, Reason to Selectmen
|Jane Patton, seen here at a Selectmen's meeting last fall, hopes to focus attention on family issues to the Selectmen. She and Selectman Ronald Turbin are running for the two three-year seats on the board.|
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — In all likelihood, Jane Patton on Tuesday will earn a spot on the town's Selectmen without a contest.
It may be the least contentious thing that happens with the panel this year.
Patton seeks to join the five-member board at a time when the town is deeply divided over the issue of whether to use a portion of currently conserved town land to develop affordable housing.
The five-month debate over the fate of the so-called Lowry property is not the reason Patton decided to get involved in town government. But she recognizes the debate likely will continue to be a focus for the Selectmen in the months ahead.
"In talking with the other selectmen, they tell me that sometimes [town government] is all rather mundane," Patton said last week. "All this has some meat to it. And it's going to have some lasting impact."
Patton is unopposed for one open seat on the Board of Selectmen. She is seeking to replace Selectman Tom Costley, who chose not to seek re-election after two terms. The ballot for Tuesday's town election also includes Selectman Ronald Turbin, who is seeking a third term on the board.
In all, there are 12 positions on the ballot, and 12 residents have filed papers to fill those seats.
The dearth of contested races normally would be a harbinger of low turnout on Tuesday. But the balloting also will include the statewide primary to narrow the field of candidates for the special election to fill the unexpired term of former U.S. Sen. John Kerry. The Democratic primary has U.S. Reps. Stephen Lynch and Edward Markey on the ballot; the Republican, Gabriel Gomez, Michael Sullivan and state Rep. Daniel Winslow.
Williamstown is one of several in the state that moved its town election to coincide with the primary.
The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Williamstown Elementary School. The results of the town election will be confirmed at the May 21 annual town meeting.
Patton, a businesswoman and mother of two, said she decided to make her first foray into town politics because she wants to give back to the community.
"I want to dig in, be part of the community and try to be somebody who can have some kind of positive impact," she said. "I have no agenda."
Patton first moved to Williamstown in 2000 but left to live in New York City before returning 4 1/2 years ago, she said. She and her partner decided to put down roots in the Village Beautiful because that is where they wanted to raise their now 4-year-old twin daughters, Patton said.
"Emily is a Williams graduate and always thought she wanted to raise kids here," Patton said. "What a great place to raise kids. Everybody knows your kids, and you're all looking out for each other.
"We're constantly taking them to football games, or we're headed to the softball games (at Williams) this afternoon after a birthday party. There's always something to do."
In addition to helping to raise the couple's children, Patton does marketing and public relations for Hops and Vines Beer Garden and Brasserie on Water Street. She also serves on the boards of the Berkshire Humane Society, Williamstown Film Festival and Sand Springs Recreational Center.
Patton's professional experience includes a stint doing sales and marketing for Victoria's Secret in New York, where she was responsible for a billion dollars worth of inventory, she said.
"I'm a businesswoman who multitasks — like all moms," Patton said.
She hopes to bring both perspectives to the Board of Selectmen, where one of her focuses will be addressing issues that affect families in town.
"I'm certainly interested in anything that involves families and kids," Patton said. "I've certainly been paying attention to what's happening at the high school. That's why I'm involved with Sand Springs."
And, like any civically aware citizen in town, Patton has been following the issues involving subsidized housing. And she agrees with the current board's recommendation to last week's special town meeting that it table the articles dealing with the Lowry and Burbank properties.
"I've paid attention to what's going on with the housing discussions," she said. "I'm not an expert. I fully support making well-rounded, thoughtful decisions expeditiously.
"We can't be, 'ready, aim, aim, aim, aim ... .' I'm all about making sure we know what the best options are and really want to make sure we're understanding from the Spruces folks what their needs are and showing respect for the folks who are passionate about conservancy.
"I believe there is a workable solution to every situation. ... That's how I conduct myself really with everything. I want to make sure I have the facts and keep emotions out of it, which is challenging. I want to be compassionate but not emotional, if that makes sense."