Southampton town election set for Tuesday

  • Southampton Town Hall  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer 
Published: 5/20/2019 4:14:50 PM

SOUTHAMPTON – A seat on the Select Board and a position on the Water Commission are the only two contested races in Tuesday’s annual Town Election. 

Polls are open from noon to 8 p.m. at the Senior Center, 210 College Highway. Twenty other town positions are uncontested. 

Christine Fowles and Charles Kaniecki are seeking to replace James Labrie on the Select Board for a three-year term, and Kaniecki is also running against Joseph Slattery to replace Kurt Boisjolie on the water commission for a three-year term. Labrie and Boisjolie are not running for re-election. 

Voters will also decide two ballot questions asking whether the town treasurer and town clerk positions should be appointed by the Select Board rather than be elected positions.   

Christine Fowles

Fowles, 66, has spent 40 years working in Africa, first as a teacher for the Peace Corps and then as a program director for the African Development Foundation. She grew up in Southampton and returned two years ago after she retired to live on her family’s farm on Gunn Road. 

“My whole life has been about community service,” Fowles said. 

Since last fall, Fowles has worked on the town’s Master Plan Implementation Committee, which she said has informed her on issues important for the Select Board to prioritize. 

Finding a location for a new public safety complex and finding funding sources for the project, keeping the town’s rural character while seeking out economic development opportunities, and avoiding tax overrides are among Fowles goals should she be elected. 

“Some of the same problems at a small community level (in Africa) are not that different from here,” Fowles said.

As a project director for 20 countries for the African Development Foundation, Fowles was responsible for overseeing a grant budget of $18 million a year. 

“I’ve work at all levels – from village farmer level to high government official levels – and have a wide level of experience,” she said. “Managing budgets was a big part of what I was doing, managing staff, and community planning from the community perspective.” 

Fowles has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and the youth program Berkshire County 4-H. 

Other priorities Fowles said she would pursue as Select Board member would be looking into a new Senior Center, and extending the bike path through Southampton, which Kaniecki said would also be a goal of his. 

“I’ve been attending every possible committee and board meeting to introduce myself and listen and learn the issues,” Fowles said. 

Charles Kaniecki

Kaniecki, 66, who served on the Select Board from 2015 to 2018, was nominated by the town caucus in April to be on the ballot. He is a lifelong resident of Southampton. 

Kaniecki said Monday that a new public safety complex is on the top of his list of priorities should he be elected to the Select Board.   

“The current police and fire stations are buildings that are way beyond their usable life,” he said, noting that the fire department is in a building nearly 100 years old and that the police station is housed in a former schoolhouse. 

“They do not lend themselves to what is needed today,” he said. 

Southampton resident Eugene Labrie has offered to donate 3.5 acres of land on College Highway for the purpose of a new public safety complex, and Kaniecki said the process of the town acquiring the land has stagnated. 

“My hope is that if I get on the board, we can move it forward,” Kaniecki said. 

Kaniecki is the town’s emergency management coordinator, chair of the Public Safety Building Committee and a member of the Agricultural Committee. He has served on numerous boards, including the Zoning Board and Board of Health, over the past 40 years.

Kaniecki said, if elected to water commissioner, he would work to enhance the city’s infrastructure in town and would look to secure funding to replace a water main line on Brickyard Road.

If he won both seats on the Select Board and water commission, Kaniecki said he could help coordinate the two bodies on necessary projects. 

Joseph Slattery

Slattery, 79, retired as the town’s water superintendent three years ago. He previously served on the Water Commission in the 1970s before becoming water superintendent in the mid-1980s. 

“I know the system inside and out and I know what the needs are,” Slattery said, adding that he could continue work he started as superintendent. “I feel like I still have something left to offer.” 

Projects he would want to see completed as a water commissioner are a new pump station on the Southampton-Easthampton town line that is in the design phase, increasing the amount of groundwater the town draws from, and building another 700,000-gallon water tank. 

“That’s an awful lot of work to get done in three years, and that’s stuff I’ve been working on as superintendent.” 

Other candidates on Tuesday’s ballot are Robert Floyd for town moderator; Lucille Dalton for town clerk; Karl Kuehner for almoner; April West for assessor; Benjamin James Hogan for Board of Health; Pamela Gaspar for cemetery commissioner; George Symborski for county councilor; Gloria Anne York for finance committee; Janet Cain for housing authority; Jessica Lee Hufnagle, Jeanne Murray, Debra Pinsky and Mark Domina for four library trustee positions; Megan Elizabeth Gentile for park commissioner for five years; Paula Maak for park commissioner for two years; Paul Diemand for planning board; William Curran for Hampshire Regional High School School Committee; Ronald Laurin for tree warden. 

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com. 


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