School Committee race only townwide competition in Amherst election
AMHERST — A three-way race for two seats on the School Committee will highlight this year’s town election.
Kathleen Traphagen of 496 South East St., Barry O’Connell of 7 Kingman Road and incumbent Richard Hood of 28 Farmington Road will compete for the three-year seats in the April 9 election.
There are no other contests for townwide office.
Elected in 2010, Hood, 55, said he would like to serve another three years because the schools have a good foundation under Superintendent Maria Geryk. Hood said his first year on the committee was spent bringing Geryk on board.
“It felt really good to make that choice and get things stable for a while,” Hood said.
Hood said he wants to ensure the nearly 40 percent of children who come from low-income families get the same level of education as others.
“I’m just a big believer that public schools should be a place where any kids, from any background, can do anything,” Hood said.
Hood works as a website developer for Common Media in Greenfield, is married to Valerie Hood and has two grown children.
An Amherst Education Foundation board member and elected Town Meeting member, Traphagen, 47, said her goals in running for School Committee include creating and supporting a school community that builds a love of learning in each child, integrating the Common Core Standards for each child’s education and supporting educators and school leaders.
“I know I’m not alone in believing that for every child, core academics should be integrated with opportunities to engage deeply, build curiosity, develop creative and artistic skills, question and problem-solve, play and develop socially, emotionally and physically,” Traphagen wrote in a candidate’s statement.
“Many educators and school leaders in Amherst are doing their best to achieve this, and the School Committee should support these initiatives.”
Traphagen is principal of Traphagen Consulting, an education consulting practice that focuses on youth development, early literacy and language development. She is married to Khalid Elkalai and has three children at Fort River School.
O’Connell, 69, is an English professor at Amherst College married to Kristin O’Connell.
During his 40-year tenure at the college, he developed and participated in professional development courses for public school teachers.
According to an online biography, O’Connell started the first Head Start program in Boston and Cambridge, taught fourth grade in Roxbury and social studies at Rindge Technical in Cambridge.
He was an Amherst Town Meeting member in the 1990s. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Besides Traphagen and O’Connell, just two other newcomers are on the ballot.
James Pistrang of 41 High Point Drive is running for one-year seat as moderator after longtime moderator Harrison Gregg opted against seeking re-election.
Jonathan McCabe of 57 Glendale Road is joining incumbent Robert Pam of 229 Amity St. in seeking the two available three-year terms on the Jones Library board of trustees.
Incumbents running unopposed are Select Board members Alisa Brewer of 5 Fairfield St. and James Wald of 454 Old Montague Road, John Coull of 20 Sheerman Lane for a one-year term as elector under the Oliver Smith will and Margaret Roberts of 2 Hills Road for a five-year term on the Amherst Redevelopment Authority.
Only four precincts feature competitions for the 80 three-year Town Meeting seats up for election. The most competitive will be in Precinct 8, where 15 people are seeking eight seats. In Precincts 7 and 9, 13 are running for eight seats, and in Precinct 10, 11 people are seeking eight positions.
The remaining precincts have eight or fewer people running, which means some seats could be filled by write-ins. Precinct 5, for instance, has just four candidates for the eight slots. Town Clerk Sandra Burgess said any write-in candidates who win seats would be asked if they are willing to accept the positions.
At least 11 University of Massachusetts students are trying to get elected to Town Meeting, including Akshay Kapoor, the president of the Student Government Association; Hayley Mandeville, the speaker of the SGA Senate; Willis Chen, an SGA senator; Brandon Graham, the public relations manager for Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity and treasurer for the UMass Democrats; and Frank Jackson, a resident assistant and unit co-chairman for the United Autoworkers Union.