Two vie for seat on Granby Select Board
GRANBY — Contested races for Select Board and Board of Health will be decided at the annual town election April 30, the same day as the special primary for a U.S. Senate seat.
Voting takes place from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the East Meadow School cafeteria.
Lifelong resident Marie Hackworth McCourt, 40, a project coordinator for a nonprofit group in Northampton, is challenging incumbent Mary McDowell, 60, the academic dean at Holyoke Catholic High School, for a seat on the Select Board.
Newcomer Micheline Turgeon, 41, a paramedic firefighter for the Westfield Fire Department, is taking on Michael Pandora, 53, an EMS coordinator for the Granby Fire Department, for a seat on the health board.
McCourt, who lives with her husband, Matt, and their son, Greg, said she has been strongly involved in the Granby community since her days as a high school student. She has taught computer use as a volunteeer at the town’s Council on Aging, worked for the Women’s Auxiliary at the Granby Fire Department, and for the past three years has served on the Charter Days Committee. She also has served as chairwoman of the Granby Democratic Town Committee.
“I’ve spent my life volunteering,” McCourt said. “I’ve decided it’s time to step up and carry the responsibility of running our government.” One of McCourt’s goals in running for a seat on the Select Board is to improve communication between town government and the public, and make committee decisions more accessible to Granby residents.
“Even if you go to the town meetings there’s still a lot that you miss about what’s going on in town,” McCourt said. “I think we need to do a better job of explaining our decisions.” McCourt also hopes to instill a greater sense of community in the town.
“I’d love for there to be some sort of central place for the community to come together, take classes, discuss town events,” she said, such as at the new library.
McCourt works as a project coordinator for the Collaborative for Educational Services in Northampton, a nonprofit that supports grant-funded after-school programs. McCourt believes her background in business and data systems analysis will help her on the Select Board.
McDowell has been on the Select Board since 2007. Before working at Holyoke Catholic High School in Chicopee, she was the former principal of Granby Junior-Senior High School. She is married to Joe McDowell and has two daughters, Laura and Christine.
McDowell, who has been living in Granby since 1982, said she was inspired to run for Select Board by her father, Thomas E. Creighton, a Select Board member in McDowell’s hometown of Uxbridge and later a state representative in Boston.
“The most important lesson my dad taught me about public office was, ‘Always be honest and true to who you are,’ ” McDowell said. “Those words are my guiding principles in all that I do, most especially in serving the people of Granby.”
As a member of the Select Board, McDowell helped negotiate the purchase of a new building for the Council on Aging on West State Street and tightened up regulations on the town landfill, which stopped people outside of Granby from using the facility. She also helped the town implement a pay-as-you-throw recycling program and played a part in establishing a website that supplies information about town departments, bylaws and regulations.
“I believe strongly in transparency on all levels,” McDowell said. “I also believe in inclusivity in town government and that we should try to recruit new faces onto committees. People have become complacent. I believe that is because they feel their voices are not heard.”
Pandora, a Board of Health member for three years, has been the EMS coordinator for the fire department for more than a decade. He also has a background in food service and is a member of the Granby Public School Health and Wellness Advisory Committee.
A paramedic firefighter for 20 years, Turgeon started as a volunteer firefighter for the town. Turgeon is also a member of the Granby Charter Days Committee.
Sample ballots can be viewed at the Town Hall Annex, the Council on Aging, Granby Public Library, East Meadow School, Dressel’s Service Station and the Granby Post Office. Absentee ballots must be filed by noon on Tuesday.