Editorial: On Election Day, make voices heard for the future of local government

  • Municipal elections will take place Tuesday throughout the Valley. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  •   GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 11/1/2019 12:48:38 PM

No big-ticket mayoral races are on the ballot in Hampshire County or in Holyoke on Tuesday, but there are plenty of other important local contests and ballot questions that voters will decide when they head to the polls.

The polls are open in Amherst, Easthampton, Holyoke and Northampton from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. City and town clerks have posted sample ballots on their respective websites for the public to view. With so many choices to make for the future of local government and as taxpayers, we urge everyone to make their voices heard in this year’s municipal elections.

Northampton

The Northampton City Council will see a significant change in personnel after Tuesday’s results are tallied. There are contested races in Ward 1 between Andrew Smith and Michael Quinlan Jr.; in Ward 5 between Alex Jarrett and incumbent David Murphy; and in Ward 7 between Pennington “Penny” Geis and Rachel Maiore, while John Thorpe is running uncontested for the council’s Ward 4 seat and Karen Foster for the council’s Ward 2 seat. At a minimum, four new councilors will join the nine-member body.

There also are races for School Committee with a contest in Ward 3 between Emily Serafy-Cox and Howard Moore. Three candidates — Roni Gold, Susan Voss and Katherine Cardoso — are running for one of the committee’s two at-large seats.

Five candidates are running for three seats as trustees of Forbes Library. The candidates are incumbent trustees Kathleen Wight and Joseph Twarog and newcomers Leslie Skantz-Hodgson, Maxine Schmidt and Emily Prabhaker. The seats are for four-year terms on the five-member board.

Easthampton

In Easthampton, five candidates are vying for four at-large seats on the City Council. Incumbents Margaret Conniff, William Lynch and Owen Zaret are on the ballot, along with candidates Laura Mae Douglass and Lindsey Rothschild. In Precinct 2, incumbent Homar Gomez faces a challenge from Erica Flood.

Easthampton voters will also decide four local ballot questions. Two questions ask whether to implement ranked-choice voting for district city councilors and the mayor, and a third addresses lengthening the mayor’s term from two years to four. A fourth, nonbinding question asks voters whether to give city officials the option to create a municipal light plant, a city-owned entity empowered under state law to provide utilities such as gas, electricity and internet to residents and businesses.

Holyoke

In Holyoke, a field of 11 candidates has emerged to fill the City Council’s six at-large seats. Incumbents Rebeca Lisi, Peter Tallman, James Leahy, Michael Sullivan and Joseph McGiverin face challenges from candidates Israel Rivera, Wilmer Puello-Mota, Deborah Aloisi, Nelson Lopez, Jordan Lemieux and Howard Greaney Jr. Candidate Michelle Trousil announced earlier on Facebook that was she was no longer running for office, though her name will appear on the ballot.

In Holyoke’s Ward 3, incumbent councilor David Bartley is facing a challenge from Dennis Birks, while candidates Marc Hickey and Rebecca Birks are vying for the School Committee seat in the same ward. In Ward 4, candidates Libby Hernandez and Michael Siciliano are in a race for the council seat while incumbent Irene Feliciano-Sims is being challenged by Faizul Sibdhanny Jr. And in Ward 5, incumbent councilor Linda Vacon is in a contest with Jens Michaelsen.

Voters in Holyoke will also be asked to decide a Proposition 2½ debt-exclusion override to fund construction of two new middle schools in the city: one on the open block bounded by Cabot, Chestnut, Hampshire and Elm streets, and the other on the site of the existing William R. Peck School on Northampton Street. The project would receive up to $75.8 million in funding from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, or MSBA, while residents would have to cover the estimated remaining $54 million.

A second, non-binding public opinion advisory question asks voters whether Holyoke Gas & Electric should conduct a feasibility study for the gradual rollout of fiber optic internet for residents in the city to purchase. The findings would be presented at a City Council meeting by April 2022 or sooner, the question states.

Amherst

In Amherst, voters will decide contested races for the School Committee’s five at-large seats. Four incumbents — Allison Bleyler McDonald, Eric Nakajima, Kerry Spitzer and Peter Demling — face challengers Ben Herrington, Lauren Mills and Katie Lazdowski.




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