Spitzer, McDonald win Amherst School Committee seats

  • Benjamin Herrington, candidate for School Committee, speaks March 15, 2018 during a League of Women Voters forum at Amherst Regional Middle School. Gazette File Photo

  • Allison Bleyler McDonald, left, and Kerry Spitzer, shown March 15, won the two open seats on the Amherst School Committee in Tuesday’s election. GAZETTE FILE PHOTOS

  • Kerry Spitzer, candidate for School Committee, speaks March 15, 2018 during a League of Women Voters forum at Amherst Regional Middle School.

  • Kerry Spitzer, left, who won a seat on the Amherst School Committee, watches election results Tuesday, March 27, 2018 at The Pub. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Allison Bleyler McDonald, center, who won a seat on the Amherst School Committee, talks with a group of people while waiting for election results Tuesday, March 27, 2018 at The Pub. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amherst School Committee candidate Ben Herrington, center, greets supporters at his campaign's event at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 754 before election results came in on March 27, 2018. —DUSTY CHRISTENSEN

Published: 3/28/2018 12:05:02 AM

AMHERST — Kerry Spitzer and Allison McDonald won the two open seats on the School Committee in Tuesday’s election, with McDonald edging past Ben Herrington for second place by around 200 votes.

McDonald, a marketing and public relations professional, and Spitzer, a senior research coordinator at Baystate Medical Center, will replace Vira Douangmany Cage and Phoebe Hazzard after they decided not to seek re-election. The two beat out Ben Herrington, a member of the custodial team at the town’s elementary schools with a background in construction and building maintenance.

McDonald and Spitzer were both in attendance at the pro-charter group Amherst for All’s election-night party at The Amherst Pub, which was packed shoulder-to-shoulder with an ebullient crowd.

“I was really surprised,” said Spitzer, who with 2,854 votes after unofficial tallies were released finished above McDonald’s 2,565 and Herrington’s 2,366.

Spitzer expressed excitement about Superintendent Michael Morris’ proposal for a dual-language elementary school program, while recognizing the serious infrastructure challenges the district faces.

“I am thrilled,” McDonald said. “I’m a little daunted also by the challenges ahead.”

McDonald said she is excited to work with the current School Committee members, and said she hopes to be able to bring people together and bridge the divides caused by recent contentious votes in town.

Present at the same party were most of the School’s Committee’s other members — Peter Demling, Eric Nakajima, Anastasia Ordonez and Hazzard.

Across town at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 754, Herrington and his supporters awaited the election results over food, soda and music, some of their children mingling with the adults.

“I’m happy that I had as much of a showing as I did,” Herrington said after the results came in. “I’m glad I could gather the support I did.”

Present at his event were friends, family and supporters, including Amherst NAACP President Kathleen Anderson and Douangmany Cage, who was an early backer of Herrington’s message of representing many in Amherst who feel their voices aren’t being heard.

“I think it’s important for our children to see that leadership can come in all different ways,” Douangmany Cage said. “I think it’s important to have role models.”

Herrington said he still plans to be involved in community organizing, having already built a serious campaign that raised his profile across town.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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