Amherst Forward endorses candidates

  • Amherst Town Hall

Staff Writer
Published: 9/28/2021 8:02:04 PM

AMHERST — A political action committee is giving its endorsements to 11 of the 18 candidates running for seats on the Town Council at the Nov. 2 town election.

In addition to its advisory for the Town Council, Amherst Forward is endorsing six of the seven candidates for the five positions on the Amherst School Committee, as well as all six candidates who will be on the ballot to serve as trustees for the Jones Library.

Katherine Appy, chairwoman of Amherst Forward, expressed gratitude for those running, whom she said represent various facets of the community.

“The decision to run is not an easy one, and we know that these candidates are also parents, grandparents, spouses, co-workers, friends and neighbors who are very busy doing the many things that make Amherst a vibrant community in which to live and work,” Appy said in a statement.

To make its endorsements, Amherst Forward reviewed candidates’ responses to questionnaires, interactions with community members, records of public service and other public statements on matters of interest to voters. Endorsements were also based on whether candidates’ platforms align with Amherst Forward’s priority issues, including development balance, infrastructure to support townwide needs, and deeper civic participation.

Candidates endorsed include incumbent Councilors Mandi Jo Hanneke and Andy Steinberg, and newcomer Ellisha Walker, co-chairwoman of the Community Safety Working Group, who are all running for the three for at-large seats. Also endorsed are Reparations for Amherst co-chairwoman Michele Miller in District 1, incumbents Patricia De Angelis and Lynn Griesemer in District 2, incumbent George Ryan in District 3, incumbent Evan Ross and newcomer Anika Lopes in District 4, and incumbent Shalini Bahl-Milne and newcomer Ana Devlin Gauthier in District 5.

Only two current councilors running for reelection didn’t receive endorsements. They are District 1’s Cathy Schoen and District 3’ s Dorothy Pam. Also not receiving endorsements from the PAC are longtime Town Meeting member Vincent O’Connor, running to serve as at-large councilor; former School Committee member Vira Douangmany-Cage, who is also seeking an at-large seat and who has stated that she would not seek Amherst Forward’s endorsement; along with newcomer Maximiliano Alaghband in District 2; Local Historic District Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Taub in District 3; and newcomer Pamela Rooney in District 4.

Amherst School Committee incumbents Peter Demling, Ben Herrington, Heather Hala Lord and Allison McDonald and challengers Phoebe Merriam and Irv Rhodes all received endorsements, with just Jennifer Shiao Page not getting an endorsement. For Jones Library trustees, the lone newcomer, Farah Ameen, along with incumbents Lee Edwards, Tamson Ely, Alex Lefebvre, Robert Pam and Austin Sarat, all got endorsements.

Candidate forums

Candidate forums being coordinated by the League Women Voters of Amherst will begin Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. with a conversation with those running for at-large seats on the Town Council.

The forums for townwide office, all of which are to be done as Zoom webinars, will be streamed live via Amherst Media and recorded. Forums for district seats on the Town Council will also be recorded for YouTube, with links to be placed on the Amherst Media and League’s websites and Facebook pages.

Questions for the candidates may be submitted using the question and answer option during the Zoom webinars, or in advance by sending an email to

A forum for District 3 council candidates will be Oct. 10 at 2 p.m., followed at 3 p.m. by the forum for District 4 council candidates.

School Committee candidates will participate in a forum Oct. 14 at 7 p.m.; District 2 council candidates Oct. 17 at 2 p.m.; and Housing Authority and Oliver Smith Will Elector candidates Oct. 21 at 7 p.m.

Electioneering rules

The Town Council recently adopted new rules around electioneering to protect early voting when it takes place at Town Hall in late October.

Previously, those who voted in person at Town Hall could have been subjected to campaigning, including literature and buttons being passed out, and having to view candidates signs close to the polls.

The new rules prohibit campaigning in the town clerk’s office, at Town Hall or within 150 feet of the building entrance doors — rules that are similar to ones on Election Day.

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