Candidate endorsements rolling in for Amherst’s upcoming election

  • Amherst Town Hall

Staff Writer
Published: 10/8/2023 2:01:26 PM
Modified: 10/8/2023 2:00:20 PM

AMHERST — Candidates for Town Council and School Committee are beginning to earn endorsements in the lead up to Amherst’s Nov. 7 town election, with two political action committees and other groups active in town affairs issuing their recommendations to voters.

Both the Progressive Coalition of Amherst and Amherst Forward made their endorsements based on responses to questionnaires and how well aligned candidates are with their priority issues.

For Amherst Forward, 12 of the 21 candidates for Town Council and three of the seven candidates for School Committee are receiving endorsements, while the Progressive Coalition is endorsing four of the 21 candidates for Town Council and four of the seven candidates for School Committee.

Katherine Appy, who chairs Amherst Forward, thanked those who are stepping up to run and willing to give their time and energy to the town.

“We have a lot of work to do to make sure that we have more affordable housing for families, healthy and safe schools, and reliable infrastructure that will stand the test of time and serve our town employees and community members well,” Appy said in a statement. “I look forward to the ideas, experience and dedication that these candidates will bring to this year’s election.”

Amherst Forward’s endorsements for Town Council are going to several incumbents, including At-Large Councilors Andy Steinberg and Mandi Jo Hanneke, District 2 Councilors Lynn Griesemer and Pat De Angelis, District 4 Councilor Anika Lopes and District 5 Councilor Ana Devlin Gauthier.

Others being endorsed for Town Council include Matt Holloway for an at-large position, Freke Ette in District 1, George Ryan and Heather Hala Lord in District 3, Dillon Maxfield in District 4 and Robert Hegner in District 5.

For School Committee, Amherst Forward is endorsing incumbent Irv Rhodes and newcomers Deborah Leonard and Sarah Marshall.

Meanwhile, Progressive Coalition issued a statement that it is seeking candidates to promote a more inclusive democracy who support initiatives such as the Community Responders for Equity, Safety and Service and a Black, Indigenous and people of color community center.

“They stand for transparency, accountability, fiscal responsible government, public engagement, access, equity, belonging, representation, affordable housing, climate justice and sustainability, CRESS, inclusive business community, student and educator centered school district, protective policies for LGTBQ+ students, investment in infrastructure: youth empowerment center, BIPOC center, senior center, roads, DPW building, fire station and new elementary school,”

Its endorsements for Town Council are going to a lone incumbent, At-Large Councilor Ellisha Walker.

Others being endorsed for Town Council include Vince O’Connor in District 1 and Allegra Clark and Amber Cano-Martin in District 2.

For School Committee, Progressive Coalition is endorsing incumbent Jennifer Shiao and newcomers Laura Jane Hunter, Bridget Hynes and Martha Toro.

Candidates who opted against pursuing endorsements from the political action committees include incumbents District 1 Councilor Cathy Schoen, District 4 Councilors Pamela Rooney and Jennifer Taub, as well as newcomer Jamie Daniels for an at-large position. The only other candidate is Patrick Drumm for a District 3 seat.

Other groups endorsing

In addition, the Amherst Pelham Education Association, the union representing teachers, paraeducators and clerical staff, is giving four endorsements for School Committee, including to incumbent Shiao, along with Toro, Hynes and Hunter, matching the Progressive Coalition endorsements. The union’s questionnaire focused on community and staff inclusion in decision-making, collaborative work with the APEA, and LGBTQIA+ and racial equity practices.

Another group endorsing is Sunrise Amherst, a youth-led organization focusing on climate justice, racial justice, economic justice and the Green New Deal. It is made up of about 20 high school and college students.

Its endorsements include six candidates for Town Council, including two incumbents, Walker and Rooney, and newcomers Daniels, Clark, Cano-Martin and Lord.

It is also endorsing five for School Committee, including incumbents Shiao and Rhodes, and Toro, Hynes and Hunter, describing them as candidates who will work toward equity and community in Amherst and idea of unity.

“These candidates align with Sunrise Amherst’s goal to recognize that regardless of our opinions, we all bring meaningful experiences to the table, and those in town politics are often our friends, neighbors, colleagues whom we must work with in our small town,” the group said in a statement.


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