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Amherst’s Town Council race: A voter’s guide

  • Amherst voters listen during the League of Women Voters forum for Amherst Town Council candidates, Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Amherst Regional Middle School. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • David Reffsin —Submitted Photo

  • Nicola Usher —Submitted Photo

  • John Page —Submitted Photo

  • Peter Vickery —Submitted Photo

  • George Ryan —Submitted Photo

  • Paul Bobrowski —Submitted Photo

  • Jim Pistrang —Submitted Photo

  • Mandi Jo Hanneke —Submitted Photo

  • Stephen Braun —Submitted Photo

  • Alisa Brewer —Submitted Photo

  • Stephen Schreiber —Submitted Photo

  • Sarah Swartz —Submitted Photo

  • Rob Kusner —Submitted Photo

  • Lynn Griesemer —Submitted Photo

  • LYNN GRIESEMER

  • Shalini Bahl-Milne —Submitted Photo

  • Sharon Povinelli —Submitted Photo

  • Dorothy Pam —Submitted Photo

  • Evan Ross Ben A. Johnson—Submitted Photo

  • Cathy Schoen Dan Bigelow—Submitted Photo

  • Victor Nunez-Ortiz —Submitted Photo

  • Andrew Steinberg —Submitted Photo

  • Robert Greeney —Submitted Photo

  • Darcy Dumont —Submitted Photo

  • Sam MacLeod —Submitted Photo

  • Jacqueline Maidana —Submitted Photo



Staff Writer
Friday, November 02, 2018

AMHERST — Amherst’s first Town Council will have its first 13 councilors when voters decide both at-large and district races at Tuesday’s town election.

After narrowing the field at a preliminary election in September, 26 residents are continuing to campaign for Town Council, which replaces the five-member Select Board and the 240-member Town Meeting as the place that both makes policy and acts as the town’s legislature.

Six candidates are vying for three at-large councilor positions on the Town Council, with four candidates running for two slots in each of five districts.

District 1 contains Precincts 1 and 3, District 2 contains Precincts 2 and 6, District 3 contains Precincts 4 and 10, District 4 contains Precincts 5 and 9 and District 5 contains Precincts 7 and 8.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 10 precincts. Precinct 1 votes at North Zion Korean Church’s hall, 1193 North Pleasant St.; Precinct 2 at the North Fire Station, 603 East Pleasant St.; Precinct 3 at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 867 North Pleasant St.; Precincts 4, 5 and 10 at the Bangs Community Center; 70 Boltwood Walk; Precinct 6 at Fort River School, 70 South East St.; Precinct 7 at Crocker Farm School, 280 West St.; Precinct 8 at Munson Memorial Library, 1046 South East St.; and Precinct 9 at Wildwood School, 71 Strong St.

At large

Alisa Brewer

Age: 53
Hometown: Lebanon, Pennsylvania
Education: B.S. in Human Environment and Design from Michigan State University
Occupation: Select Board and union membership administration
Website: alisaforamherst.com

Why are you running for Town Council? Experienced, passionate, proven leadership at this historic moment in local governance. I have served in Town-wide elected office for 16 years, and can bridge the transition to a constituent-based legislature that incorporates far more than 13 people's views.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? Fear of “politics” contaminating our local governance. Organizing to move things forward, rather than organizing to stop things, makes some people uncomfortable. We can’t pay for the things we say we value if we aren’t working on hearing from everyone.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? Amherst wasn’t whole when I arrived 20 years ago, but over those years I have continuously built and re-built coalitions that found ways to work together to execute the larger values most of us share in this beautiful bubble.

Robert Greeney

Age: 72
Hometown: Amherst
Education: PhD in Physics

Occupation: Physics professor at Holyoke Community College

Why are you running for Town Council? I decided to run for Town Council because I felt we needed a more inspired and innovative plan for the future of our downtown. I want to ensure that plan is the product of a broad participation and inclusion.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? We must develop a practice of inclusion and participation in all plans, policies and decisions.  Capture the wisdom of the many, while building unity and community.  Begin with refreshing the Master Plan and rethinking downtown development.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? Every major project, plan or policy must begin and end with broad participation and inclusion of the diversity of views in our community.  If a person feels their view was carefully considered, it is much easier to accept an opposed outcome

Mandi Jo Hanneke

Age: 40
Hometown: Amherst, but grew up in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
Education: J.D. and B.A., with majors in Economics and Music, from Case Western Reserve University
Occupation: Mother, previously attorney
Website: VoteHanneke.org

Why are you running for Town Council? I am running to create an inclusive decision-making process that actively promotes public participation. I will advocate for responsibly funding voter-approved capital projects, creating a comprehensive housing plan, and enacting zoning that ensures new buildings complement their surroundings.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? The biggest issue facing Amherst is how to manage our population growth in a way that doesn’t price people out, but also maintains and improves on the features we value, like open space, active farms, and vibrant town centers.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? Listening and respecting are two of the keys to bridging the recent campaigns that have polarized Amherst. The Town Council must be receptive to working with all residents, no matter their positions, to achieve our collectively shared goals.

Rob Kusner

Age: 58
Hometown: Philadelphia
Education: B.A. in Physics and Mathematics from Haverford College; Ph.D in Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley.
Occupation: Mathematician and UMass professor

Why are you running for Town Council? To offer my deep experience – both professionally and through decades of  community service – in creative problem solving.  My goal is inclusiveness: building consensus drawn from broad perspectives to identify issues which require Council action, and developing optimal yet practical solutions.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? Engaging the residents of Amherst in self-governance in the face of local and national political divisiveness, growing economic stratification, and the prospect of an imminent global environmental crisis – our major capital projects are trivial in comparison with these, and we can deal with them easily if we work together.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? Establish subcommittees of the Council responsible for oversight of the various functional areas in Town government: each would meet regularly with the Manager and appropriate staff, and each should include a politically diverse membership of residents with interest and expertise in the functional area.

Jim Pistrang

Age: 64
Hometown: Amherst since 1988, raised in New Jersey
Education: BA in History and Political Science from Tufts University
Occupation: Software developer
Website: jimforamherst.org

Why are you running for Town Council? I hold a detailed knowledge of the town’s by-laws and financial structure. The Council must be responsive to voices from all segments of our community. I have the skillset to help establish Council processes and ensure that they are followed.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? Responsible management and funding of major capital projects is critical. The Council must also review zoning bylaws to ensure a strong downtown, affordable housing and adequate parking. A clear and efficient process must be established to accomplish these goals.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? Setting clear council agendas, soliciting community feedback, and operating transparently will help reduce polarization. I have the support of many residents who differ on recent controversial issues but trust me to be fair and reasonable as a Council member.

Andrew Steinberg

Age: 70
Hometown: Amherst
Education: B.A. in History from University of Rochester;  J.D. from Washington University, St. Louis.

Occupation: Legal Aid, law and nonprofit management, executive director of Western Massachusetts Legal Services, 1980 to 2007
Website: AndyforAmherst.org

Why are you running for Town Council? I serve Amherst on the Select Board and was a member and chair of the Finance Committee. The Council will address pending matters. If elected, I will provide experience and continuity between our present government and the new one.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? To fulfill its mandate, the Council must establish procedures for conducting business. There are no precedents. While organizing itself, the Council will make important decisions to meet the ongoing demands of government. Government cannot stop while the Council organizes itself.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? We must replace two ailing school buildings, revise zoning bylaws, and continue quality municipal services. As it does so, the Council must inform residents, listen to them, and explain its decisions. Then people can come together and support their government.

District 1

Sharon Povinelli

Age: 51
Hometown: Shreveport, Louisiana
Education: B.A., SUNY Fredonia State, English, Creative Writing; M.A., Antioch New England, Organization Management
Occupation: Hastings owner
Website: sharonfornorthamherst.org

Why are you running for Town Council? I understand the fiscal challenges we face as a town and the options we have to mitigate those challenges. I have a vision for the future, the leadership skills to get us there and the willingness to work with others.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? Embracing a smart growth model of economic development, agreeing on the appropriate locations for this growth and managing the trade-offs. Economic growth provides jobs, leads to tax base growth, and thereby helps slow the increase of the residential tax rate.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? Amherst will be whole when all residents are able to weigh in as priorities are set, pros and cons are examined and viable decisions are reached. I am committed to ensuring that the Council encourage this participation from our residents.

Cathy Schoen

Age: 70
Hometown: Amherst
Education: B.A. in Economics from Smith College; M.A. in ABD Economics from Boston College.
Occupation: Economist and policy analyst
Website: cathyschoen.org

Why are you running for Town Council? Our new Council will need people with my experience – decades working as an economist on complex public issues – to engage in careful analysis, mind the “big-picture,” and develop creative solutions to forge consensus around the challenges we face. I want to contribute.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? Sustaining Amherst’s economic and community vitality. Property taxes are high, yet barely support schools, town services and a backlog of expensive infrastructure needs. Growth may add tax-revenue, but can also impose new public costs, drive out local businesses and fail to add to Amherst’s social or economic health. We must shape growth to enhance - not compromise - Amherst.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? We are replacing 250 elected town-representatives with 13 Councilors with authority over town budgets, planning, zoning and more. To win trust and unify, the Council must publicly articulate alternative solutions to major town issues, invite participation before decisions, be accountable and transparent at every stage of the process.

Sarah Swartz

Age: 48
Hometown: Dalton
Education: B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst; Associate of Arts in English from Berkshire Community College
Occupation: Farmer and companion and home care aide
Website: sarahswartzdistrict1.org

Why are you running for Town Council? I am running for Town Council because Amherst is my home.  I have spent my entire adult life in this community. I want to bring transparency, honesty and respect for all to this inaugural Town Council.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? The biggest issue for Amherst right now is that is has become divided. Charter and new school issues have pulled us apart. It is imperative that we bring Amherst back together as a whole community.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? I am dedicated to viewing all decisions with an open mind and a desire to solve problems. I will be willing to compromise and listen. I would also prioritize public outreach and make myself available to the people of Amherst.

Nicola Usher

Age: 39
Hometown: New York City
Education: B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Law from SUNY Binghamton; M.A. in International Education from NYU Steinhardt School of Education, Culture, and Human Development.
Occupation: Undergraduate academic adviser at UMass
Website: votenicola.org

Why are you running for Town Council? I want to positively contribute to my chosen hometown and I want to ensure that voices of young families are heard and represented.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? Our failing elementary school buildings - how to build new schools and tackle the backlog of other capital improvements without significantly increasing our residential tax burden.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? I disagree with this premise. Amherst is not broken. In fact most candidates seem to agree on what our most pressing issues are - councilors will have to collaborate and consider multiple perspectives to find solutions.

District 2

Patricia DeAngelis

Age: 72
Education: B.A. and M.Ed from Smith College's Ada Comstock program
Occupation: Retired teacher and consultant on the teaching and learning of mathematics
Website: patforamherst.org

Why are you running for Town Council? I believe that Amherst can be a community in which all voices, from the loudest to the softest, can be heard. Heard and listened to as we collaboratively address issues of sustainable development, housing security, environmental and social justice.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? Amherst’s tax rate is very near the maximum that can be charged without overrides. Many residents fear taxes will drive them from town. We must find financially prudent ways to prioritize and fund capital projects, infrastructure, educational initiatives, and demands for services.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? Nothing can substitute for real time face to face conversations among us – all of us, from our various age, economic, race, ethnic, gender, and ability identities. I will work to create opportunities for those conversations on the council and throughout Amherst.

Lynn Griesemer

Age: 71
Hometown: Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Education: B.S. in Math from Cedar Crest College; M.S. in Math Education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Ed.D in Educational Administration and Curriculum and Instruction from Tennessee; Master of Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School.
Occupation: Retired Executive Director of the UMass Donahue Institute and Associate Vice President for Economic Development within the UMass President's Office.

Why are you running for Town Council? We need this transition to go well by listening to all viewpoints, finding common ground, and moving forward. Serving on the Council is a privilege; an opportunity to utilize my experience in building strong organizations and continuing commitment to Amherst.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? A central challenge is integrating the discussions about planning, zoning, the tax base, capital projects and our values. The Council has the obligation and opportunity to put issues in context, bring forward important information, and promote dialogue across the community.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? The critical first job for the Council is making the conversation positive and productive. My optimism about a positive transition has grown steadily during the campaign – and I have an unwavering commitment to promoting open, informed, forthright and respectful dialogue.

Victor Nunez-Ortiz

Age: 36
Hometown: Framingham 
Education: Associates in Business Administration from Holyoke Community College; B.A. in Hospitality Administration from University Without Walls at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Occupation: Veteran advocate and entrepreneur
Website: vote4vic.org

Why are you running for Town Council? I’m running for Town Council because I believe I can make a difference because I  bring a wealth of knowledge having been a public servant in various non-profit and government agencies in my career as a Veteran Advocate.  I want to ensure this is the greatest town ever for countless of future generations to come 

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? Our town needs to improve in attracting young families and individuals  to come and live in the town. In order to achieve this we will need creative ways to broaden our tax base, provide affordable housing and continue to provide the quality municipal services Amherst has to offer.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? We all need to come together to grow together.  As a Town councilor I will use my networking and organizing talent to educate and communicate town issues to all residents so we are all well informed and included.  

Peter Vickery

Age: 51
Hometown: Now, Amherst. Originally, Swansea, South Wales, England.
Education: B.A. from Oxford University; Post-graduate Diploma in Law from University of the West of England; J.D. from Boston University School of Law; Masters in Public Policy & Administration from University of Massachusetts Amherst
Occupation: Attorney
Website: votevickery.org

Why are you running for Town Council? I am running because Amherst needs more jobs and more homes. Everything else — maintaining our excellent schools, conserving our open space, and safeguarding our social services — depends on economic vitality.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? We have almost 500 full-time-equivalent benefited employees, and we are also responsible for paying retiree pensions and other post-employment benefits (OPEB). To share that tax responsibility more equitably, we need more small, locally-owned businesses.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? By listening; deciding public policies wisely responsibly, based on evidence, with civility and without grandstanding or pandering; and helping steward the Town’s finances with prudence and probity, in the interests of the community as a whole.

District 3

Stephen Braun

Age:  61
Hometown: Wilmington, Delaware
Education:  B.A. in Journalism
Occupation:  Medical writer with EBSCO Information Systems
Website: stevebraunforcouncil.org

Why are you running for Town Council? With the dissolution of the existing Finance Committee, I want to help form the Council's Finance sub-committee and see that it maintains the traditions of fiscal discipline and hard scrutiny of budgets and projects that Town Meeting relied on for many decades.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? We need to find a solution with broad support for the replacement or renovation of Wildwood and Fort River schools and then move quickly to prioritize and fund our other large, overdue, capital projects.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? I have already been reaching out personally to leaders on various sides of key issues in towns, and would continue that in-person approach to finding common ground on such matters as elementary schools, capital projects, downtown development, and libraries.  I would also push for fair representation from all sides of an issue when important committees or sub-committees are formed to explore an issue. 

John Page

Age: 21
Hometown: Pelham
Education: Pursuing a B.B.A .in Operation and Information Management and a B.S. in Political Science in the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
Occupation: Student, Dining Hall Supervisor
Website: johnpageforamherst.com

Why are you running for Town Council? I am running for Town Council to ensure generational diversity on the Council. My unique experience having gone through the Amherst regional schools and currently attending UMass is a critical perspective that must be represented on the first Town Council.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? Besides establishing norms and precedent for future Councils, the primary task of the First Council is devising a strategic plan to address our four capital projects: schools, fire station, DPW, and library while continuing regular maintenance of roads and sidewalks.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? I have a track record of coalition building-the most prominent example being activating student engagement in local governance. My background provides me with unique ability to see issues from multiple perspectives. I will bring Amherst together and move us forward.

Dorothy Pam

Age: 79
Education:  B.A. from Swarthmore College, English Honors; M.A. from Cornell University, Dramatic Production; M.A. from Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY), Applied Linguistics (TESOL); Ph.D from New York University (NYU), Performance Studies.
Occupation: Associate Professor, Hostos Community College (CUNY) in the South Bronx until 1986—2003; Northwestern CT Community College, adjunct instructor 2003—2010; Holyoke Community College, adjunct instructor since 2010.
Website: DorothyPam.com

Why are you running for Town Council? I am running to preserve Amherst’s downtown residential neighborhoods, rich history, culture, and social justice traditions. New development must be pedestrian friendly, include parking, green space, affordable units, for a mix of residents, and be GREEN and sustainable.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? We must make and implement a capital plan and budget to build/renovate and finance the needed schools, fire, public works, and library buildings that meet the town’s needs, are Net Zero, that the town can afford, with public involvement.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? I bring my experience and independent voice to Town Council. Working together we can increase cooperation with our educational institutions for sane land, agricultural, and energy policies and with local artists to bring us together through performing arts downtown.

George Ryan

Age: 67
Hometown: Amherst
Education: B.A. and M.A. from Wayne State University; PhD from Princeton University
Occupation: Adjunct Faculty, Holyoke Community College
Website: GeorgeRyanforAmherst.org

Why are you running for Town Council? I feel an obligation to give back to a town which has been In my district (District 3) the biggest gap is between town and gown, between the students and the University on the one hand and the residents who live adjacent to campus on the other. I would work very hard in support of initiatives that have already been put in place by the Select Board and the Chancellor’s Office to help bridge this gap.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? Broadening the tax base so the Town can continue to provide quality services, lessen the burden on the individual taxpayer, and make it easier to address the four major capital projects: elementary schools, library, DPW Building and Central Fire Station.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? A big divide in my district is between town and gown. I would focus on areas of mutual concern–the scarcity of housing, student behavior in residential neighborhoods, and the conversion of single and multi-family residences into student rentals.

District 4

Jacqueline Maidana

Age: 71
Hometown: Boston Back Bay
Education: BFA in Painting, Master and C.A.G.S in Counseling Psychology, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Occupation: Teacher and artist

Why are you running for Town Council? Participation gives its citizens a voice in the decisions being made. That is why I ran for Town Meeting and why I am running for Town Council.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? Prioritizing capital projects such as the school renovations, Department of Public Works and fire substation in South Amherst. For example, the Fort River School feasibility study will help us determine whether to remodel or rebuild.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? Communication, cooperation and team building will need to be part of the healing process. In the spirit of cooperation I am committed to finding things we can agree on and work from there.

David Reffsin

Age: 73
Hometown: Amherst
Education: B.A. in Economics from Lehman College
Occupation: Sales manager buying coffee internationally

Why are you running for Town Council? I am running because I believe in reasoned, responsible and independent leadership in which voices are heard and respected.  I want to maintain the character of our town while meeting infrastructure needs.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? My top goal is to prioritize capital projects with schools and public safety first so that taxpayers feel the town is prudent.  What do we want, what do we need, and what can we afford?

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? Moving past the current anger by reaching residents at the precinct level would help.  The Council needs to respect all ideas and work together with true transparency, not following a preset approach.

Evan Ross

Age: 31
Hometown: Warwick, Rhode Island
Education: M.S. in Environmental Conservation
Occupation: Lecturer at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst College of Natural Sciences 

Why are you running for Town Council? As a first-time candidate, I will bring a new voice to town government. As a Millennial, I will bring needed generational diversity. And as a renter, I will ensure that tenants have a seat at the table.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? Housing: Rents are high. Vacancy rates are low. The rental market drives conversion of single-family homes, reducing our stock of starter homes. High property taxes push folks out of town. These problems have ripple effects throughout our community.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? I will focus on my job as both legislator and liaison. I will hold regular district meetings, providing space for constituents to voice their ideas, opinions, and concerns so that all members of our community feel heard and valued.

Stephen Schreiber

Age: 61
Hometown: Amherst
Education: B.A. from Dartmouth College; Master of Architecture from Harvard University
Occupation: Architect and Founding Chair of UMass Department of Architecture
Website: Steve4Amherst.com

Why are you running for Town Council? Our town council is getting its start in the midst of a vital town-wide conversation about what we want and expect from public and private development in town, particularly in downtown.  How do we want our downtown to look in  years? How do we encourage development that nurtures diversity and caters to a broad spectrum of residents and visitors?  How can we build state of the art elementary schools and renovate our library to represent this Town’s commitment to education at all levels?

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? How much development is too much development – and how much do we want and need in order to diversify our tax base, serve our residents, and keep our downtown bustling while also preserving the trees and green space that make Amherst such a great home? 

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? Over the years, I’ve built a great record as a team player – as someone who can listen, take a large view of important issues, and take on complex problems in a careful, thoughtful, rational way. I’ll be looking to establish a Town Council with a structure and culture that embrace multiple perspectives, and where there’s respect for all.

District 5

Shalini Bahl-Milne

Age: 50
Hometown: Amherst, but born in Delhi, India
Education: Ph.D in Marketing, Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts, Amherst;| Chartered Accountant, Indian Institute of Chartered Accountants; Bachelor of Commerce Honors, Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi, India
Occupation: Owner of Downtown Mindfulness in Amherst and Affiliated Expert at the Isenberg School of Management

Why are you running for Town Council? I have the qualifications, skills, experience, and energy that will be helpful in listening to diverse points of view and working together to make Amherst a resilient town that takes care of all its residents and empowers people and organizations to contribute to their highest level.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? Amherst is divided on many issues, such as our schools, downtown development, and the library. Such divisions impede our progress as a town. We need to come together as a town to create a shared vision so we have clarity about our strategic goals and actions.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? I would like to implement policies and procedures to ensure that: all communities and perspectives are represented in the decisions; communication channels—online and offline—are available for all residents to have regular access to information and to participate; w e build trust with built-in guidelines for dialogue so they feel safe to speak up, heard and included.

Paul Bobrowski

Age: 61
Hometown: Berlin, CT
Education: B.S. Astronomy from University of Massachusetts, Amherst; M.A. in Sociology from UMass Amherst ;J.D. Law from University of San Francisco
Occupation: Attorney/consultant
Website: paulforamherst.org

Why are you running for Town Council? To give back.  I feel my experience on the Finance Committee, Planning and Housing Boards, Hampshire Council of Governments, Town Meeting, and other committees, along with my legal land use planning practice will be valuable to the new Council.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? Our large capital projects (schools, etc.) amounted to an intricate financial jigsaw puzzle carefully put together by the town.  Once we have a new school proposal, that puzzle needs to be reconstructed and presented clearly to citizens to reach consensus.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? I will listen and compromise.

Darcy Dumont

Age: 68
Hometown: Edmeston, New York
Education: B.S. in Education and French from SUC Brockport; J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law
Occupation: Retired lawyer, public school teacher; current energy and climate policy advocate
Website: darcyfordistrict5.org

Why are you running for Town Council? To make Amherst a model of sustainability, inclusion, democracy. I have the background and skills - as a lawyer and teacher - to do that. I’m creative and bold and have a history of accomplishing what I set out to do.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? Making sure that the new Council is accessible, transparent and responsive to all parts of our diverse town. I’m going to work to actively recruit a diverse pool of volunteers to participate in town government.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? By being forward looking and optimistic. I’m optimistic that we can produce a proposal for school buildings that has broad support, agree on zoning that preserves the character of downtown, increase revenue and save money while reducing our carbon footprint.

Sam MacLeod

Age: 58
Hometown: Amherst
Education: Amherst schools; M.B.A. from the University of Massachusetts Isenberg School of Management
Occupation: Management and human resources
Website: sammacleodforamherst.com

Why are you running for Town Council? I care deeply about our future. We must achieve optimal solutions that address the long-term needs and values of all of our residents, not just some. I want to serve our community and offer my perspective, experience and practical mindset.

What is the number one issue facing Amherst? Financial constraints. We have a very large unfunded liability and many pressing needs. We need to be practical. We need to listen to all our residents as we seek mutually beneficial solutions. My background will be of great assistance.

In these times of divisive politics, how do you plan to bridge any gaps that can make Amherst whole again? By being open minded, respectful, a good listener and focusing on fact based optimal outcomes. I have professional expertise in conflict management, communication, cultural awareness, decision-making and best practices. We must value all of our residents. We can do this!