Lacy, Farrell vie for Select Board seat in Shutesbury

  • Jeff Lacy COURTESY PHOTO

  • Rita Farrell COURTESY PHOTO

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Staff Writer
Published: 6/15/2020 6:23:13 PM

SHUTESBURY — Two residents with extensive involvement in public service to Shutesbury are competing for a three-year term on the Select Board in the only contested election on the June 27 ballot.

Jeffrey R. Lacy, of Baker Road, and Rita Farrell, of Briggs Road, are running for the seat currently held by Elaine Puleo, who is not running for reelection after being elected to a two-year position in 2018, and had also served on the panel from 2009 to 2015. Voting will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside Town Hall, adjacent to the annual Town Meeting that starts at 9 a.m.

Farrell, co-chairwoman of the Finance Committee whose experience also includes service on the School, Recreation and Community Preservation committees, has a platform of balancing fiscal responsibility with continued investments in public services, and advocacy for more financial support from the state and federal governments.

“We are facing a number of challenges in Shutesbury ranging from changing demographics to a fiscal environment that could well place a serious burden on our ability to continue the level of services we have today,” Farrell wrote in a statement.

Farrell is encouraging collaboration between town boards and officials, promoting community engagement through communication and participation, and embracing diversity and culture.

“I believe it is imperative that those who serve on town boards set their personal views aside when performing their duties,” Farrell wrote about her approach to governing. “Elected town officials should always serve the community and never serve their own agenda.”

Farrell, who came to town in 1981, retired from her position as a senior staff member for the Massachusetts Housing Partnership and is still a consultant for the Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust. She began her public service career as a shared administrator for four area towns.

Lacy, a member of the Planning Board for the past 25 years and Zoning Board of Appeals for the last 10,  said he supports transparency in all town business and processes for any town endeavor and describes himself as socially liberal and fiscally frugal.

“I’m emphasizing an affordable Shutesbury for people, that will be my emphasis above all others,” Lacy said.

Lacy said he worries that the town has one of the highest tax rates, and is one of the costliest communities in the region. He has focused on the assessment method for the Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools, which he argues is flawed because it doesn’t properly take into account the ability to pay for Shutesbury, the least wealthy of the four towns. As he looks at how the town conducts business and ways to reduce costs, Lacy said he is also interested in acquiring more recreational land for activities and finding a way to build community support for a new library.

“I will be encouraging people of different backgrounds and political persuasions to stop harping on divisions and how to be more friendly and convivial,” Lacy said.

Lacy, who came to town in 1989, retired from the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation but continues to be a land consultant for area communities, as well as running a horse farm and operating a trucking business.

Many of those seeking election are incumbents, including Norene Pease, South Laurel Drive, for a three-year term on the Board of Health; Walter R. Tibbetts, Pelham Hill Road, for a three-year term on the Cemetery Commission; P. Savanna Ouelette, West Pelham Road, for a three-year term as library trustee; Michel DeChiara, Pratt Corner Road, Steven Bressler, Old Orchard Road, and Deacon Bonnar, Montague Road, all for three-year terms on the Planning Board; and Daniel Hayes and Stephen Sullivan, both of Wendell Road, for three-year terms on the School Committee.

Newcomers on the ballot include Grace Bannasch, Sandhill Road, for a three-year term as town clerk; Melanie DeSilva, Wendell Road, for a three-year term as library trustee; and Garrett Simonsen, West Pelham Road, for a three-year term on the Board of Health.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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