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Wade Hasty, left, and Jeffrey Johnson congratulate one another after the vote totals were posted in the Williamstown Elementary School gymnasium on Tuesday evening.
Updated May 12, 2021 11:32AM

Hasty, Johnson Elected to Williamstown Select Board

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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Updated Wednesday at 11:30 with official results from the town clerk.
 
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Wade Hasty and Jeffrey Johnson were elected to the Select Board on Tuesday in a high-turnout election.
 
Hasty defeated Albert Cummings, 989-770 990-772, in a race to serve the final year of an unexpired term on the five-person board.
 
Johnson was elected to a three-year seat by a margin of 1,140-641 1,141-642 over Tony Boskovich.
 
In a three-way race to serve on the town's Planning Board, Roger Lawrence emerged victorious in a tight three-way race.
 
Lawrence received 640 votes. Incumbent Susan Puddester was favored by 621 622 voters and Kenneth Kuttner was third with 449 450 votes.
 
Charles Stephen Dew was elected to the Housing Authority over Joan Diver by a margin of 956-542 958-542.
 
Johnson said he was confident as he waited for the votes to be tallied.
 
"The reason why I felt that way was because I gave everything I had in the campaign," Johnson said. "I bared my heart and soul. People know exactly who I am — things that are very personal.
 
"All day, and I'd say over the past week, I feel like people were seeing who their candidate truly is. I walk the walk. I talk the talk."
 
Johnson thanked Boskovich for pushing him during a campaign that became divisive at times, at least in terms of the discussion among the candidates' opponents.
 
"Tony and I have had many conversations, and we'll continue because I'm here for everybody, not just my contingent," Johnson said.
 
Last year, with two uncontested elections involving incumbents returning to the Select Board and one contested Planning Board race, about 700 ballots were cast in the local election.
 
On Tuesday, 1,823 votes were cast for a turnout of 38 percent of the town's 4,855 registered voters.
 
In all the contested races, the ultimate winner claimed victory in all three of the town's voting precincts, though there were some exceptionally close races in individual wards.
 
In Ward 2, which had the lowest turnout, just three votes separated the three Planning Board candidates, with Lawrence claiming 90 to 88 for Puddester and 87 for Kuttner.
 
The narrowest margin in the Select Board race came in Ward 1, where Hasty earned 52 percent of the vote, edging Cummings by a margin of 372-338 
 
Townwide, Hasty took 56 percent of the vote, and he was on the edge of his seat until the votes were counted.
 
"I thought it could go either way," Hasty said. "Albert has a lot of the town name, town recognition. So this was a surprise to me."
 
Like Johnson, Hasty said he plans to serve all town residents, including those who voted for Cummings.
 
"I like to think that regardless of who was going to win, we both want what is best for the town," Hasty said. "We might have had different routes to get there. It's definitely in my interest to make sure that those folks who may have found representation in Albert to also, hopefully, find representation in me.
 
"I don't want to let them down either."
 
Boskovich is hoping the town can come together, but he expressed some concern that the rifts opened by the spring's campaign will not be healed.
 
"Jeff and I have talked a lot," Boskovich said. "When we were at the landfill, we talked, probably 24 hours because we did three weekends together. We were very congenial, because we were the gladiators in the ring.
 
"But it's the supporters that I'm worried about. I'm worried that people are going to be doing their happy dance, that they feel they have a mandate. We've seen that at the national level. And if that happens in this town, this town is a lot worse off than it was before. If we don't learn grace in victory, kindness to our political opponents, this town is going to destroy itself."
 
Lawrence said his mandate on the Planning Board is to ensure that town government serves the governed. And he said Tuesday that while he has a lifelong connection with Williams College as the son of a college faculty member, he is concerned about the school's role in town government.
 
"I look forward to working with Williams College," Lawrence said. "That relationship needs to be public and transparent."
 
In recent years, the Planning Board has been a lightning rod for town politics, and it saw its share of discord in 2020-21 over the issue of a a cannabis production bylaw amendment it sent to town meeting last summer and another that it is sending to next month's town meeting.
 
But the main focus of political discourse in the last 11 months has been the Select Board, which became a venue for conversations about institutional racism in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder on Memorial Day 2020. The emotional conversations that started in June ramped up considerably two months later when a federal lawsuit filed against the town (and since dropped) raised allegations of racism and sexual misconduct in the town's police department.
 
Johnson, who volunteered to serve on the Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Equity Committee the Select Board formed last July, said Tuesday night that he believes he can work with and for residents who share a variety of points of view.
 
"I know that, in a race, you're going to rally around your candidate, but many of [Boskovich's] supporters — I'm not going to say 'were my friends,' they are my friends," Johnsons said. "Just because they don't support some of my ideas and wome of the ways I wanted to do things, this is what democracy is.
 
"I'm very thankful because, as I understand it, this is one of the biggest votes we've had. We brought the people out. That let's us realize this is truly what we want."

 


Tags: election 2021,   election results,   


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Williamstown Fire District Looks at Recruitment Need

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williamstown Fire District needs to work on the message it conveys to potential recruits and consider new models for service to make it a more attractive option for residents.
 
That was part of the message the Prudential Committee received last week from the community advisory committee the committee established last year.
 
Jeffrey Thomas, who chairs the advisory group, dropped by the Prudential Committee''s first in-person meeting since before the pandemic to share some input from his group.
 
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