Races for mayor, council shaping up in Easthampton

  • Easthampton voters cast ballots in precincts 1, 2 and 5 at White Brook Middle School on Nov. 6, 2018. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/15/2021 9:05:17 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Voters in November’s general election will see races for mayor and City Council at-large on the ballot, while every precinct-level city councilor is running unopposed for reelection.

Mayor Nicole LaChapelle is running for a third term against Fort Hill Brewery owner Eric Berzins and city resident Keith Routhier, according to nomination papers filed with the city clerk’s office. LaChapelle was first elected in 2017, defeating Joy Winnie, and ran uncontested in 2019.

Tuesday was the deadline for candidates to submit their nomination papers to the city clerk’s office. The deadline to withdraw from the race is Sept. 30, after which the list of candidates for the Nov. 2 election will be final.

Berzins, making his first run for elected office, told the Gazette in July that he would “likely” withdraw if “a candidate who is stronger than myself enters the race ... but I do believe I am better for Easthampton than Nicole.”

Last month, Routhier declined to give an interview to a reporter until he had collected more signatures on his nomination papers.

Efforts to reach Berzins and Routhier on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

This year’s election is the first since a 2019 charter change extended the mayor’s term from two to four years.

Voters will use ranked choice voting to elect a mayor, while the remaining races will use the more traditional method called first-past-the-post, in which voters choose one candidate per seat.

Immediately after the Sept. 30, 5 p.m., deadline to withdraw, the ballot order will be determined in a randomized drawing at the city clerk’s office.

City Council and School Committee

Six candidates are running for four at-large City Council seats: incumbents Owen Zaret, Lindsey Rothschild and Erica Flood face challengers Koni Fay Denham, Brad Riley and David Meunier.

Peg Conniff, an at-large councilor who serves as council president, is not seeking reelection.

Every precinct councilor is running unopposed for reelection: James “J.P.” Kwiecinski of Precinct 1, Homar Gomez of Precinct 2, Thomas Peake of Precinct 3, Salem Derby of Precinct 4 and Daniel Rist of Precinct 5. Meunier, the at-large candidate, originally took out nomination papers to challenge for Derby’s seat.

City councilors and School Committee members serve two-year terms.

Four School Committee incumbents — Marin Goldstein, Cynthia Kwiecinski, Shannon Dunham and Laurie Garcia — are running to keep their seats on the six-member board, and two newcomers are vying to join: Benjamin Hersey and Megan Harvey.

Members Marissa Carrere and Jonathan Schmidt are not seeking reelection.

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 13 at 8 p.m.

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.
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