Two candidates vie for Select Board seat in Plainfield 

  • Plainfield Select Board candidates John Williamson and Lily Thompson SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Staff Writer
Published: 10/20/2020 1:32:55 PM

PLAINFIELD — Two candidates focused on the fiscal challenges of running a small, rural town are competing in the Nov. 3 election to fill the remaining 2 ½ years of a Select Board seat that becomes vacant the following day.

Patrick Williamson, a retired Amherst College biology professor, and Lily Thompson, a journey-level carpenter who is part of carpenters’ union Local 108, are seeking to join board members Hilary Weeks and Rebecca Coletta when Howard Bronstein, who was reelected in June, steps down.

Lily Thompson

Thompson, 37, has made her home in Plainfield for the past 13 years with her husband, a member of the town’s Fire Department, and two children, ages 9 and 7.

Thompson said she understands Plainfield has limited revenue, but one way to preserve the tax base is to strengthen the agricultural heritage by ensuring those properties remain productive.

“I want Plainfield to stay the old-style town we enjoy,” Thompson said.

She expressed disappointment in how Town Meeting in June handled the Police Department budget, rejecting raises despite recommendations from the Select Board and Finance Committee.

“That change subverted the democratic process,” Thompson said. “I prefer to always be able to listen to concerns, and feel that I would be a good listener for that type of thing.”

A Buckland native who has been on the Student Advisory Board for Franklin County Technical School for more than 10 years, Thompson said she represents an important constituency.

“I feel that I’m at the sweet spot where I’m not brand new to town, but am also not part of the old guard,” Thompson said.

“I have a vested interest in the community, and hope to have that vested interest for some time to come,” Thompson added.

Patrick Williamson

Williamson, 72, has lived in Plainfield since he and his wife purchased their home in 2014, bringing them back to a rural area after raising their family in the hills of Montague and living for a time in Amherst College’s faculty housing.

Williamson said he has an interest in the long-term sustainability of Plainfield, its government, and how to address the burdens of paying for children’s education, upkeep of roads and public safety services.

“The large-scale issue is how does a small town, with a limited tax base, continue its government,” Willaimson said. “I’d like to see a vision for how the town will be able to operate into the future under this pressure.”

Bronstein’s decision to step down prompted Williamson to consider dedicating time to town service.

“With Howard’s resignation, it thought it was something I could do,” Williamson said. “One problem is making sure the Select Board functions after the loss of Howard, who’s been a great source of institutional memory.”

Williamson said he will mine the resources of volunteer boards and set up communication with the rest of the town, noting the challenge COVID-19 is causing in limiting in-person interaction.

He also understands the police budget has not been resolved and will have to be addressed by the board in the near future.

Previously, Williamson has worked with the Cemetery Association to maintain municipal cemeteries and helped compile a tree inventory following an extensive tree cutting and removal project by Eversource.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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