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Debates planned next week for Northampton City Council, Smith Vocational trustees races

NORTHAMPTON — A quiet campaign season is poised to make some noise next week as debates are lined up on three consecutive nights featuring all but the School Committee and one of the contested races on the City Council.

There is no planned debate for the Ward 6 contest between incumbent Marianne L. LaBarge, 68, of 698 Westhampton Road, and challenger Yvonne C. Keefe, 53, of 40 Hickory Drive.

The largest of next week’s debates is slated for Wednesday and will include at least two of three candidates vying for at-large seats on the council and five candidates seeking three positions as trustees at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School.

The event, sponsored by the Ward 3 Neighborhood Association, is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Bridge Street School cafeteria.

The debates will include brief introductions by each of the candidates, followed by questions submitted in advance to a moderator and questions from the audience.

The at-large council candidates are William H. Dwight, 58, of 39 Myrtle St., social media coordinator for the Media Education Foundation; Jesse M. Adams, 35, of 187 Main St., an attorney; and Anthony L. Patillo*, 62, of 14 Autumn Drive, the city’s former building commissioner.

Incumbents Dwight and Adams have said they will attend. Patillo, who is recovering from hip surgery, has not confirmed his participation in the debate, according to Robert Reckman, a member of the Ward 3 Neighborhood Association.

In an email to the Gazette last week, Patillo said he is not dropping out of the race as prognosis for full recovery from the surgery is good. Patillo did not say if he would attend the debate, though Ward 3 Association members said they would be surprised if he was there.

“We wish that he were able to participate so that we could have a broad discussion of all the issues at the forum,” Reckman said.

The candidates for Smith trustees are John E. Cotton, 75, of 24 Turkey Hill Road; Thomas M. FitzGerald, 60, of 133 S. Main St.; Michael T. Cahillane, 68, of 157 Prospect Ave.; John E. Lind, 65, of 433 Ryan Road; and Dennison J. Wolfe, 53, of 1 Isabella St.

Cotton, FitzGerald and Cahillane are the incumbents.

After the question sessions, candidates will have a chance to make a two-minute closing statements. Each debate, to be moderated by Gerald Budgar, will run about one hour in length. Budgar is the past president of the neighborhood association.

The at-large candidates for the School Committee were originally scheduled to debate at the forum, but that changed when the committee made plans to interview superintendent finalists that night, Reckman said. He said the Ward 3 association might organize another informal event for the School Committee candidates prior to the election.

Meanwhile, debates also are planned next week for the City Council races in wards 2 and 7.

Up first is the Ward 2 debate, sponsored by the Northampton Area League of Women Voters at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Little Theater of Northampton High School, 380 Elm St.

Incumbent Paul D. Spector, 64, of 74 Massasoit St., will take on challenger Jason T. Foster, 44, of 87 Round Hill Road.

The public is invited and will be asked to submit questions for the candidates. The debate will be taped by Northampton Community Television and broadcast at a later date before the election.

Ward 7 candidates Eugene A. Tacy, 57, of 158 North Maple St., the incumbent, and challenger Alisa F. Klein, 53, of 18 Chestnut Ave., will debate from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Leeds School cafeteria.

Questions from Ward 7 residents are being collected in advance and will be given to moderator Penny Geis prior to the debate. Audience members will also be able to ask questions.

The Leeds Civic Association and NCTV are cosponsoring the debate.

* CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story used an incorrect middle initial for Anthony L. Patillo.

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