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Colton Andrews, Bryana Malloy and Seth Alexander are running for the vacant seat on the Select Board on Tuesday.

Clarksburg Voters to Elect Town Officers on Tuesday

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Voters on Tuesday will determine races on the Select Board and School Committee.
The town annual election is from noon to 7 p.m. at the Community Center. Seats up for a election are Select Board, School Committee, Board of Health, library trustee and War Memorial, one seat each for three years; moderator and tree warden, each for one year; and a five-year seat on the Planning Board. 
The three candidates for Select Board discussed their visions and qualifications last Monday at a forum sponsored by the Council on Aging at the Community Center. 
Town Moderator Ronald Boucher fielded questions for the Colton Andrews, Bryana Malloy and Seth Alexander, who are running for the three-year seat being vacated by Jeffrey Levanos. 
Alexander is also running against incumbent Cynthia Brule for School Committee as well as for town moderator and Planning Board.
"I think it's great for the residents to get an idea who's running for office and ask them some important questions and listen to what they have to say," said Boucher to the few dozen residents in attendance, adding that he wanted to thank Levanos — who has served on the Select Board and School Committee — for his time and devotion to the town. 
Malloy moved to Clarksburg several years ago after four years in Maui, Hawaii, and is currently manager of industry relations and Berkshire market maker at MassHire. She's also a cross-country coach at McCann Technical School and she and her husband have three children.
The North Adams native received her bachelor's degree in sustainable food and farming from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and earned a certificate in civic engagement and public service. 
"I learned a lot about the importance of local government and being an engaged citizen, active citizen," she said. "I'm very excited to have this opportunity to be here campaigning and running for your support."
Alexander is also a North Adams native who has been working in agriculture in the area since his teen years. He said his strong ideals about family and community were instilled by his parents and he believes strong families are an asset to the community.
He feels he is well suited for the board from his research and study as well as his capability, dedication and work ethic.
"My beautiful wife is a Clarksburg native who gave the me the insight to discover that there is no better place for us to raise our family than right here," he said. "I hope to be given the opportunity to pour my valuable energy and movitvation and appreciation for small-town culture to work for my neighbors and friends." 
Andrews said he moved to Clarksburg with his wife seven years ago to raise their family. He also is a native of North Adams and his wife of Clarksburg. He said it he didn't really understand the sense of community and pride of the town until he moved here and saw how tight-knit it really is and currently serves on the Planning Board. 
He is the business manager for Laborers Union Local 596, with  represents about 600 construction workers, and president of the Pioneer Valley Building Trades Council, representing more than 5,000. 
"My experience I'd say it's more in the political realm. A lot of activism with elected officials constantly doing state reps, state senators, governor's office," he said. "I think access to the elected officials, that we really at the end of the day, need help from and I think here more than anywhere, I think it shows that, unfortunately, if you're not the loudest one in the room, making the noise, unfortunately you're going to be overlooked."
All three candidates said they were "LGTBQ" friendly and said they would continue to find ways to serve the community if they were not elected. Alexander said he was already running for other posts, Andrews noted he was appointed to the Planning Board after loosing last year's School Committee race and Malloy said she will be actively seeking other opportunities if not elected.  
All three also stressed the need to access federal funding for roads and infrastructure. 
"I think more than ever, we can't miss the boat. I think one of the biggest hurdles, I'd say, per se is the grant writing ability of the town to go after some of these these grants that are available.," said Andrews. "Obviously, the school's always really the town's No. 1 priority, but the infrastructure — people's feelings where they live really boils down to simple things. They want easy roads to drive on. They want the utilities to work. And obviously, they want to keep taxes in check. 
But I would be fully committed to pursuing every possible avenue to repair the infrastructure."
Malloy said maintaining infrastructure was very important particularly with climate change, noting the town has been seeing major storms every month. 
"There is money out there and I'm hoping to utilize my grant-writing skills to secure funds for Clarksburg so that we can take more of a more proactive approach rather than reactive," she said. "I secured for MassHire a $2.2 million workforce training grants just recently for a three-year period. So I'm confident that with my eyes out there, seeing all these grants that are available, and see what will work."
The price tags for culverts and other work is rising, said Alexander, and pointed to the Municipal Vulnerability Committee's work underway. 
"There's more grants to be written and things to be done and [Town Administrator Carl McKinney's all over that, and not to take anything away from the other candidates abilities with Grants, but that is Carl McKinney's job," he said. "So unless he needs help with that, the best thing is going to be the communication, with boots on the ground, the functionality getting it done as the Selectmen, I believe that is a little bit more so what needs to be done."
In response to questions about Briggsville Water District, a private entity, not always being welcomed by the town, each said the district was part of the town and that collaboration was necessary. 
They were also asked about the long-term prospects of Clarksburg School. 
Alexander said he was 100 percent behind the school but added that "all the schools are hemorrhaging money every year," which is difficult for a largely senior community. 
"It needs all kinds of help all the way up from top to bottom. So that's a big thing to tackle right there off the bat," saying he was ready to "get my hands dirty" and noting he's also running for School Committee and that serving on both boards would help with a controlled budget. 
Malloy referred to the beauty and charm of the town's small school also the challenges. 
"I personally love the idea of keeping Clarksburg School here in town, but the feasibility of it, it may not work [financially]," she said. There could be a merger, and new building is off the table because of the cost but so is keeping it in its current state. 
Andrews, speaking last, said both his opponents made important points. 
"The school is probably the biggest, biggest hot-button issue, followed by taxes and I think sometimes those usually go hand in hand with each other," he said. He'd supported the failed school building project and said it was difficult to miss the boat on state money. "I think that small school approach is really what makes Clarksburg special. ... 
"But at the same time, I think we do have to take fiscal responsibility on that, too. You can't expect to put the burden on an aging population in the town and expect that you're going to be able to continuously raise taxes."
All three candidates also supported adopting the state Community Preservation Act, which would allow it to put a surcharge on properties over a certain value and match it with state funds for affordable housing, open space and recreation, and historic preservation. It's estimated that would be $55 for the average single-family home. Town meeting will vote on the adoption. 
In a final question, Boucher asked the candidates how they would cope with declining revenues and rising costs. 
"My personal stance I think the Select Board, the town administrator, the administration, at the end of the day have to be the town's biggest salespeople," said Andrews. "They have to find a creative way to make Clarksburg more attractive to businesses to drive up tax revenue."
"More money, more problems. We have to learn to manage what we have well, and extremely efficiently," said Alexander, suggesting small-scale operations and attractions would benefit Clarksburg while maintaining its small-town atmosphere. "This town, whether anyone agrees or not, perfectly reflects the true American way of life and we need to preserve that above anything else."
"There's a lot of changes that are happening and a lot of decisions coming down the pipeline, and the next 10 years, the world's going to be very different and opportunities happening fast," said Malloy. "So we need to kind of get on top of things and get our ducks in a row on as they say so that we can be in a good position for more change."

Tags: election 2024,   town elections,   

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Clarksburg Town Meeting to Decide CPA Adoption, Spending Articles

CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Voters will decide spending items and if the town should adopt the Community Preservation Act at Wednesday's town meeting. 
Voters will also decide whether to extend the terms for town moderator and tree warden from one year to three years.
The annual town meeting will take place at 6 p.m. in the gym at Clarksburg School. The warrant can be found here.
The town operating budget is $1,767,759, down $113,995 largely because of debt falling off. Major increases include insurance, utilities and supplies; the addition of a full-time laborer in the Department of Public Works and an additional eight hours a week for the accountant.
The school budget is at $2,967,609, up $129,192 or 4 percent over this year. Town officials had urged the school to cut back more but in a joint meeting last week agreed to dip into free cash to keep the prekindergarten for 4-year-olds free. 
Clarksburg's assessment to the Northern Berkshire Vocational School District is $363,220; the figure is based on the percentage of students enrolled at McCann Technical School. 
There are a number of spending articles for the $571,000 in free cash the town had certified earlier this year. The high number is over several years because the town had fallen behind on filings with the state. 
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