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Wade Hasty, candidate for Select Board, during his 'meet the candidate' statement earlier this month on WilliNet.

Hasty Wants Williamstown to Do the 'Hard Right'

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Forget forsythias.
 
The real harbinger of spring in small towns is the political lawn sign.
 
And this spring, Wade Hasty livened up Williamstown's curbsides with distinctive bright yellow and green signs carrying a simple message, "Electorate leads the way," and bordered by images of flowers.
 
"I'm anti-partisan," Hasty said in explaining his choice in color scheme. "At this time in the American social climate, a large grouping are hyper-partisan. I chose two colors that represent the two largest third-party organizations. The mayflower outlines the sign as it is the Massachusetts state flower. I'm a 'transplant,' and I thought, 'how fitting.' "
 
On Tuesday, May 11, Hasty hopes that the local electorate will lead him to the town's Select Board. He is contending with Albert Cummings to fill the remaining year on a three-year term being vacated by Jeffrey Thomas. Two other candidates, Nicholls White and Barbara Rosenthal, each announced this month that they are ending their respective campaigns.
 
Hasty was raised in southwest Maine near the New Hampshire border and enlisted in the Army in 2004. He served three combat tours in Iraq before leaving the service as a sergeant first class in 2015.
 
After serving his country, Hasty studied at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams and eventually settled with his family in Williamstown.
 
"It was a family decision — closer to my partner's work, a decent school for our son and, at a time prior to my being laid off from the pandemic, closer to my work," said Hasty, who chose to answer questions by email rather than be interviewed for this story.
 
Running for local elected office was not part of the plan, Hasty said. In fact, he described himself as being relatively disinterested in local politics, thinking it did not make much of an impact on his day-to-day life.
 
That changed last summer.
 
"The pandemic put me out of a job, so I had some free time on my hands," he said. "After some time, I was added to the Williamstown Mass. Info and Issues Facebook page, then shortly after that time, I had become aware as others had about the lawsuit against the town."
 
The federal whistleblower lawsuit filed by a sergeant at the Williamstown Police Department contained serious allegations of sexual misconduct and racist actions in the department stretching back for a decade. Coming in August, at the height of a national conversation about the state of policing in America, the suit sparked outrage and intensified calls for reform at the local level.
 
Hasty's was one of the voices that demanded action from the Select Board. Its failure to act was what drove Hasty to seek one of the seats that opened up this spring.
 
"Those in power weren't prepared to do the hard right over the easy wrong," Hasty said. "I have called for the resignation of the police chief, I have called for the resignation of the town manager, I have called for the resignations of any Select Board members that would serve to protect the power structures over the electorate. In my calls for accountability, myself and those I care about were illegally targeted by members within the WPD."
 
Hasty in March told an Albany, N.Y., radio station that he was one of the 20 residents whose personal information on the commonwealth's Criminal Justice Information System was illegally accessed by WPD officers.
 
As for the town's police chief and town manager, each did step down following weeks of calls for their removal by Hasty and others.
 
Finding a permanent replacement for outgoing Town Manager Jason Hoch will be a task for the incumbents on the Select Board and the two successful candidates in the May election. The current board is directing a search for an interim police chief with the intention of letting the next town manager choose a permanent replacement to lead the WPD.
 
Hasty said he wants to be a strong voice in both those decisions, which will have lasting impacts on the community.
 
He also has other priorities for the town, but Hasty is realistic about what can be achieved in the one year remaining on the seat he seeks.
 
"I understand I am the bottom rung on the Select Board ladder, during my year term, I am not going to be chair, nor vice chair," Hasty said. "This doesn't mean I don't have aims, it just means there needs to be a pragmatic sense of expectations. My goals beyond what I already claimed can then be realized outside of being a member of the Select Board, and for that I am grateful. 
 
"Encourage a deaf chat, to get members of the community to practice American Sign Language. To connect with veterans locally, and assist those amidst reintegration/transition, posit education to combat predatory online shopping."

Tags: election 2021,   town elections,   


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Williamstown Names Interim Police Chief; Process Sparks Committee Member's Resignation

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The interim town manager Monday announced that Lt. Mike Ziemba will serve as the town's interim police chief.
 
Ziemba, who has been serving as acting chief since the departure of Kyle Johnson in December, was vetted by a committee of concerned citizens created by the Select Board to advise the town manager, who has hiring authority under the town's charter.
 
That committee's role was called into question on Monday when one of the residents appointed to serve announced on Facebook that she was resigning over concerns with the process that led to Ziemba's appointment.
 
While making it clear that she had no objection to Ziemba's elevation to the position, Aruna D'Souza charged that Blanchard "overruled" the advisory committee by not appointing its preferred candidate.
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