Decision day near in Southampton: Six running for 3 Select Board seats in Tuesday’s election that also includes override


  • Francine Tishman. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO



  • Dylan Mawdsley. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO


Staff Writer
Published: 6/20/2021 5:05:35 PM

SOUTHAMPTON — Tuesday’s election is shaping up to be a momentous day for the town, when voters will choose from among six candidates in the running for three Select Board seats and decide the fate of a Proposition 2½ override.

Two three-year seats and one two-year seat on the board are up for grabs in the election. Incumbent Matt Roland will compete against challengers Joy Piper and Jon Lumbra for the three-year seats, while incumbent Francine Tishman will face challenges from Nilda Cohen and Dylan Mawdsley for the two-year position.

Also on Tuesday, voters will approve or reject a $718,467 override to provide funding for Norris Elementary School and other municipal departments. The town election will take place at the Senior Center at 210 College Highway from noon to 8 p.m.

Candidates for 3-year seatsJoy Piper

Piper is running for Select Board in an attempt to increase affordable housing in Southampton and improve government transparency and communication, she said.

Piper, 30, grew up in Southampton and returned to the area after living in Boston for seven years. But moving back to the area can be difficult for younger adults in particular, she said, as housing prices rise and many struggle to pay off student loans or find affordable child care options.

“A lot of millennials and people I graduated with aren’t really around anymore,” Piper said, “and I want to make (Southampton) a place they can come back to where it’s affordable.”

Southampton has funding available to put toward affordable housing options, Piper said, such as Community Preservation Act awards, but the town needs to take action to allocate this funding. Under the CPA, 10% of available funding is earmarked for community housing.

“It’s there, and there needs to be some innovative ways we can work together to make it happen,” Piper said.

Piper is an attorney practicing out of Springfield and a member of the Southampton Conservation Commission.

Piper also hopes to increase communication between residents and elected officials and shape the development of vacant land in town “in a way that’s smart but in-line with the rural character of Southampton,” she said.

After a seven-year absence from Southampton, Piper said she is here to stay and ready to work on long-term change.

“I’m going to be here for a very long time,” Piper said. “I’m pretty established here, so I’m playing the long game at the end of the day …  I can put in the time for each step for however many years to play the long game and get those goals done.”

Jon Lumbra

After almost two years on the School Committee, Lumbra is seeking to make a shift to the Select Board.

Lumbra, 46, has served as the Southampton School Committee chairman for over a year during his term. Lumbra said that his background as the chief financial officer of the Dowd Insurance Agencies makes him well-equipped to handle financial and budgetary matters for the town.

“Looking at how things were in the current state of affairs within the town — with the lack of a town accountant and experiencing how they go through the entire budget process — I felt that my experience … could benefit the town if I offered my expertise to the board,” he said.

Southampton has not had a permanent accountant since November, though the position has been filled on a temporary basis since this time.

Lumbra was also the city treasurer in Holyoke for six years. He has lived in Southampton just over three years.

This year’s proposed override was a significant influence in the decision to run for a Select Board seat, Lumbra said, though he doesn’t think that this year’s override was avoidable. But Lumbra believes that focusing on the town’s long-term finances, rather than a year-by-year picture, can prevent the need for “dips and drastic overrides” in the future.

This planning would involve “looking 10 years down the road, the decisions that we’re making are setting us up for success moving forward,” Lumbra said.

Matt Roland could not be reached for comment. Roland won his Select Board seat in 2018.

Candidate for 2-year seatNilda Cohen

Former Select Board member Cohen said she was influenced to run for a position again due to the financial impacts of COVID-19 on the town, in addition to what she sees as inadequate financial planning under the town’s current administration.

“As I saw discussions taking place on the Select Board without an accountant, there were deficits on that board that were really troubling to me,” Cohen said. “I felt that they needed someone on the board that had a financial background.”

Cohen, 74, has worked in accounting and the private sector for social service organizations. She sat on the Select Board and Finance Committee in the ‘80s and ‘90s, in addition to other town committees.

Cohen has previously criticized the override and is “still standing firm that it’s not the answer,” she said.

“It’s not the answer because it doesn’t have the long-term benefit,” she added, calling the measure a “Band-Aid effect.”

With long-term financial planning and preparation for potential financial hardships, Cohen believes that the town can avoid future overrides.

“You have to look beyond yourself and say, ‘This is in the interest of the town,’” Cohen said.

Dylan Mawdsley

Mawdsley is running for a two-year term to focus on development, infrastructure and stabilizing the town’s financial future.

“The biggest issue for me is really focusing on infrastructure,” Mawdsley said. “And I mean that only in the sense of physical infrastructure … but the kind of big picture infrastructure in town,” including water and sewer, expanding into the commercial district and looking into municipal fiber optic options.

Mawdsley, 37, graduated from Hampshire Regional High School and moved back to Southampton just over a year ago after living in Holyoke for a decade.

“Watching the renaissance go on in Northampton and Easthampton, Southampton has room to grow,” Mawdsley said, “and I feel like we need some research that would support continued business and residential development while still maintaining Southampton’s rural character.”

Mawdsley was previously a state attorney and worked in the executive branch of he Massachusetts Legislature.

Like his fellow candidates, Mawdsley also believes the override is a major issue to be addressed. “I’m hoping that with some investment and business development … We won’t be in this situation almost every year,” he said. “It’s already a great community that I think we can make even better,” Mawdsley said.

Francine Tishman

As she finishes her two years on the Select Board, Francine Tishman is running for a second term in hopes of continuing to address the town’s financial stability and sustainability.

“I think you get an idea of what the issues are over the first couple of years,” said Tishman, 72, “and in your last couple years, you have an opportunity to envision how they might be addressed, so I’m looking to take my experience to the next step.”

The need for a new financial focus isn’t new for Southampton, Tishman said, “but I think it deserves a concentrated focus in the coming years if we’re going to set our path that doesn’t bring us from one crisis year to the next and looking for overrides.”

Tishman, who is retired, was formerly the president of a nonprofit organization on Long Island for employment of people with disabilities, and also worked with other organizations to promote opportunities for people with disabilities in the workforce.

Prior to joining the Select Board, Tishman served on the Finance Committee for six years. As part of the Finance Committee and Select Board, she has also served as a liaison to several committees, and she is also the chairwoman of the Bylaws Committee and treasurer for the Friends of the Council on Aging.

In addition to stabilizing the town’s finances, Tishman hopes to increase resident participation in government.

“I believe in participatory government, and I think it’s important that the citizens have all the information that they need to make decisions for the town going forward,” Tishman said. “The Select Board is just the facilitators — the real decision-makers are the voters.”

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