Sixth candidate emerges in race for Smith Voc board of trustees in Northampton

  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/1/2021 11:12:16 PM

NORTHAMPTON – A sixth candidate has announced plans to run for the Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School board of trustees, setting up a potentially historic challenge for the board’s three elected seats.

All three incumbents are running for reelection against three challengers, and if all are certified for the ballot, it will represent the most candidates for the board in at least 22 years.

Richard Aquadro, 63, a third-generation commercial carpenter and a 20-year member of Smith Vocational’s carpentry advisory board, said Thursday that he pulled nomination papers this week.

“I’ve been toying with the idea of running for a couple of years,” Aquadro said. “Out of respect for my friend Mike Cahillane, I wasn’t going to run until he stepped aside (but) it’s time to mix it up.”

Michael Cahillane, John Cotton and Thomas FitzGerald are collecting signatures to run for reelection to two-year terms on the board, while Thomas Pease and Julie Spencer-Robinson earlier took out nomination papers to challenge the incumbents.

Aquadro spent 35 years at Aquadro & Cerruti Inc., a general contracting and construction management company located on Texas Street. He stepped down as the owner in October 2016.

If all the challengers win, the board would have three new faces for the first time in 20 years.

Cotton was first elected in 2001, followed by FitzGerald in 2005 and Cahillane in 2009. Since Cahillane’s election, the only contest for the seats came in 2013, when the three incumbents defeated two challengers.

The city clerk’s website keeps election results dating back to 1999. If all six candidates are certified for the ballot, the November election will be the first time that more than five candidates have run for the board of trustees in the past 11 elections.

A seventh candidate joining the field would trigger a preliminary election.  In order to appear on the ballot, candidates must collect signatures from 50 registered voters who live in Northampton.

The board also has two ex-officio members: the Northampton mayor and the superintendent of Northampton Public Schools. Mayor David Narkewicz is not seeking reelection on Nov. 2.

Nomination papers, available through the city clerk’s office, must be returned to the Board of Registrars by July 30 at 5 p.m.

Brian Steele can be reached at

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