South Hadley Candidates Night set for Thursday

Supporters of candidates in South Hadley’s 2021 town election wave to residents arriving at the high school to vote. In advance of this year’s election, Know Your Town of South Hadley will sponsor and moderate a Candidates Night on Thursday at the South Hadley Library.

Supporters of candidates in South Hadley’s 2021 town election wave to residents arriving at the high school to vote. In advance of this year’s election, Know Your Town of South Hadley will sponsor and moderate a Candidates Night on Thursday at the South Hadley Library. STAFF FILE PHOTO

By EMILEE KLEIN

Staff Writer

Published: 02-17-2024 3:31 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — Residents will have one night this year to meet the candidates running for local office and both Fire Districts in the upcoming town election.

Know Your Town of South Hadley will sponsor and moderate the Candidates Night on Thursday at the South Hadley Library. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., candidates will answer audience-submitted questions, followed by candidates for the Fire District moderators, Prudential Committee members and water commissioners.

Know Your Town Program Committee Member Martha Terry said the nonprofit decided to combine the two candidates nights because the elections for local offices and the Fire Districts happen on the same day at the high school. She added that more people will also hear the Fire District candidates, since normally fewer people come out for the smaller elections.

Residents who wish to ask the candidates a question will submit their inquiries during the event. According to Terry, any question that is issue-oriented and not repetitive is asked to the candidates.

“We have a question sorter who sits behind the moderator and she will make a judgment of whether a question is repetitive or whether it’s issue oriented. It has to be issue oriented,” she said.

So far, nine candidate for local office have confirmed their attendance: moderator candidate John Hine, Select Board candidate Jeffrey Cyr, Select Board candidate Carol Constant, Municipal Light Board candidate Ronald Coutu, Board of Assessors candidate Evelyn Masson and Planning Board candidate Robert Watchilla. However, the candidate line-up may change at the last minute.

“You never know if more people will respond just before candidates nights,” Terry said. “Some people leave it to the last minute, some people might cancel at the last minute and some people find at the last minute that they can come.”

Three of the four candidates for the contested Public Library trustee race will also attend, including Neil Broome, Lanette Sweeney and Mitchell Resnick.

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“It’s a wonderful opportunity to hear them although this year there’s only one contested seat in town. … There’s no competition for any other seats in town, and some seats do not have a candidate, such as the Board of the Health,” Terry said.

Hine will attend the second half of the night as a candidate for Fire District 1 moderator. He’s joined by Pauline McClaflin, who’s running for District 1 Water Commissioner.

The only candidate who has responded for District 2 is Carlene Hamlin, a candidate for moderator.

Know Your Town posted more information on each of the candidates on its website. For those who cannot attend, the evening will be broadcast on Channel 15.