Pinger wins seat on Goshen Select Board, looks forward getting to work

For the Gazette
Sunday, May 07, 2017

GOSHEN — Nina Pinger, of East Street, was elected to a three-year term on the Select Board on Saturday in a close race with challenger Sean M. Fitzgerald, of Hyde Hill Road. Pinger garnered 77 votes to Fitzgerald’s 63 and will replace Select Board member Diane E. Bushee, who did not seek re-election.

A lifelong resident, Pinger is a semi-retired clinical nurse specialist in psychiatry who worked at the Veterans Affairs Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System in Leeds.

“I am very happy with the outcome,” Pinger said Sunday afternoon. “But, you know, I would have been happy with him (Fitzgerald) winning the race as well because it sounded as though he was pretty qualified.”

Fitzgerald, has been employed with Verizon for 26-years, and works in high-speed data and special services. He has also served on the Hampshire Regional School Committee, and has an undergraduate degree in business management from Western New England University.

“But I am ready,” Pinger said emphatically. “Ready to be sworn in on Monday then jump in and get to work for the town.”

She said she knows her first task is going to be tackling the issue of bringing broadband services to Goshen, noting that she is committed to getting the town “up to speed” on both the high-speed internet issue, and other issues that will affect or benefit the town.

Hilltown residents have spent years trying to secure broadband service in their towns, which they have repeatedly argued would greatly improve internet access for current residents enabling them to work, research, do homework, run a business online and be better connected with the rest of the world.

It would also attract new residents and business to the small towns, many of which are currently struggling with the exodus of younger people looking for jobs elsewhere, growing senior populations, and very few business and employment opportunities.

“I am certainly interested in the WiredWest initiative and working to get broadband to town,” Pinger said in an interview last week.

WiredWest is a cooperative governed by delegates from its member towns for the purpose of delivering high-quality broadband services to those towns.

The town has two proposals it is currently considering to bring broadband to the community.

The first is a town-owned fiber-optic network to be built by Westfield Gas and Electric and operated and maintained by WiredWest. The second is a proposal from Comcast to build a hybrid fiber network paid predominantly by incentives provided to Comcast by the state.

Fitzgerald said he feels his work and experience with Verizon would have been valuable expertise to have at the table in terms of the high-speed internet discussions, adding that he is not a supporter of WiredWest.

“The last broadband meeting I went to was slanted toward WiredWest, which I feel is a big mistake,” Fitzgerald said. “I think people don’t really understand how the technology works and I could help with that.”

Fitzgerald said he was disappointed that he lost his bid for the Select Board and said he should have campaigned harder.

“I think I dropped the ball. I didn’t work as hard as I should have,” he said.

Pinger said she will give the position her best, and is looking forward to working with the Select Board and the other boards and committees in town as well as the Goshen community.

Turnout at the polls Saturday was 147 out of 728 registered voters, or 20 percent.

All other candidates and incumbents ran unopposed.