Amherst Town Council moving to replace Nakajima on School Committee

  • Amherst Town Council President Lynn Griesemer laid out the process for replacing Eric Nakashima on the School Committee on Monday.

Staff Writer
Published: 2/25/2020 3:19:02 PM

AMHERST — For the first time under the town charter adopted nearly two years ago, the Town Council will be coordinating a process for replacing an elected member of a town board.

The vacancy comes after School Committee Chairman Eric Nakajima, elected alongside four colleagues in November, submitted his resignation last week to Town Clerk Shavena Martin. The resignation, effective March 1, follows his taking the job of director of government relations for the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

Council President Lynn Griesemer presented a timeline to the councilors Monday that will give residents significant time to consider whether they want to serve on the committee. The notice of the vacancy will be published officially on March 2, and then letters will be accepted through the end of the month.

“They will not be considered candidates unless they file a statement of interest,” Griesemer said.

According to her memo, “letters of interest shall be no more than one-page (12-point font) and include the following: Name, address, and contact information; reasons the candidate wishes to serve on the [name of board], and the candidate’s qualifications and experience. Resumes may be included but are not expected nor required.”

Councilors, though, are unsure when interviews and a vote on Nakajima’s successor will take place. Griesemer said April 14 is the preferred date, but one School Committee member will be unable to be present that night. Having the meeting a week earlier could mean additional conflicts, while pushing it to April 21 would mean a meeting during school vacation week.

The candidate winning a majority of the votes from 13 councilors and four School Committee members will be the new member, serving until the November 2021 town election.

Although Griesemer said the Town Council would like to get the School Committee back to a full complement of members as soon as possible, the charter states that the date for an appointment only has to be scheduled within 45 days of the vacancy, and that the appointment doesn’t have to be finalized in that time frame.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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