South Hadley forums planned on ballot questions

Staff Writer
Published: 10/15/2016 4:47:27 AM

SOUTH HADLEY – Voters here will have two opportunities to learn more about the Nov. 8 ballot questions.

Know Your Town,  a nonpartisan citizens group in South Hadley, is hosting forums on Thursday and Oct. 27.

Both forums will begin at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium. Attendees are advised to enter on Pleasant Street because multiple entrances at the Town Hall are closed for repair, according to Martha Terry, a member of Know Your Town.

“It’s really to educate the citizenry – come, listen, become informed then ask questions about anything to do with the questions that concerns them or offer an opinion,” Terry said. “We do this as a public service and the citizenry has it back by public demand every time.”

Ray Hershel, a Western Mass News reporter at television station Channel 40 in Springfield, will moderate both forums. 

The first forum on Thursday will address the questions of the Community Preservation Act for South Hadley and Question 2, the expansion of charter schools in the state.

Community preservation

Tony Judge and Roger Beer will speak in favor, while Michael Wozniak will speak against the CPA.

The town has debated for 15 years participation in the program which allows communities to establish a local tax to pay for open space protection, historic preservation, affordable housing and outdoor recreation. 

The town originally created a study committee in 2001 which ultimately recommended against participating.

In 2006, the committee was revived and this time recommended participation although it was ultimately voted down in April 2008. 

The town again voted on the issue in April 2016 but the measure failed by a 14-vote margin.

Question 2

Marc Kenan, executive director of the Massachusetts Charter Public Schools Association will speak in favor of raising the cap on charter schools.

Presenting the opposing view will be Stephanie Viens, a teacher at South Hadley High School, and Donna Johnson, president of the University Staff Association at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Questions 3 and 4 

The second forum on Oct. 27 will address Question 3, conditions for farm animals, and Question 4, the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana.

Linda Huebner from Citizen for Farm Animals will speak in favor of  Question 3, while Diane Sullivan from Citizens Against Food Tax Injustice will present the opposing view.

On Question 4, Attorney Richard Evans will speak in favor, and Dr. Gregory Petrosky will speak against.

The programs are free and open to the public and will conclude with refreshments and an opportunity to meet and talk with the speakers. 

More information about Know Your Town is available on the organization’s website at

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