Voters face key decisions in municipal elections on Tuesday

Amherst residents Jeffery Cooley, left, Jacqueline Kang, Lise Halpern and Judy Brooks cast their ballots in Amherst Town Hall on Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, the first day of the state's new early voting program which runs through November 4.

Amherst residents Jeffery Cooley, left, Jacqueline Kang, Lise Halpern and Judy Brooks cast their ballots in Amherst Town Hall on Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, the first day of the state's new early voting program which runs through November 4.

By Scott Merzbach, Maddie Fabian and Alexander MacDougall

Published: 11-05-2023 10:59 AM

Voters in three Hampshire County towns face key decisions for the future of their legislative branches on Tuesday, when Amherst, Northampton and Easthampton hold municipal elections to select new councilors, school committee members, library trustees and other positions.

Polls in all three communities open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Here’s a rundown of what’s at stake.

Amherst

In Amherst, voters will choose three at-large councilors and 10 district councilors for the Town Council to be seated Jan. 1, along with all five School Committee members, all six trustees for the Jones Library, the three Housing Authority commissioners and an elector under the Oliver Smith Will.

The five at-large candidates, running for three Town Council seats, are incumbents Ellisha Walker, Andy Steinberg and Mandi Jo Hanneke, and challengers Matt Holloway and Jamie Daniels.

Two councilors will be elected in each of the town’s five districts, with only District 5, where incumbent Ana Devlin Gauthier and Finance Committee member Robert Hegner are on the ballot, in an uncontested election.

In District 1, there is a three-way race between incumbent Cathy Schoen and challengers Vincent O’Connor and Ndifreke Ette. In District 2, there is a four-way race between incumbents Lynn Griesemer and Pat De Angelis, who are being challenged by Charlotte Allegra Clark and Amber Cano-Martin.

In District 3, due to redistricting, there is no incumbent, with a three-way race between George Ryan, Heather Hala Lord and Patrick Drumm. In District 4, also due to redistricting, there is a four-way race between incumbents Jennifer Taub, Pamela Rooney and Anika Lopes, who are being challenged by Dillon Maxfield.

Seven candidates, including two incumbents, are seeking the five seats on the Amherst School Committee. The incumbents are Jennifer Shiao and Irv Rhodes, while the challengers are Sarah Marshall, Deborah Lee Leonard, Bridget Hynes, Laura Jane Hunter and Martha del Carmen Toro.

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The others on the ballot are seven candidates for six seats to serve on the Jones Library board of trustees, including incumbents Austin Sarat, Robert Pam, Tamson Ely, Lee Edwards and Farah Ameen facing challenges from Eugene Goffredo and Edward McGlynn.

Only incumbent David W. Williams is on the ballot for one of three seats on the Housing Authority, with two of the positions to be filled by write-ins, along with an elector under the Oliver Smith Will, also likely to be filled by a write-in.

Easthampton

With just one contested precinct race and seven incumbent councilors running unopposed, City Council will look familiar after Tuesday’s election.

The race for School Committee, however, could shake things up, with 10 people running for six positions.

On the election ballot, voters will see uncontested races for four at-large city councilors, along with Precincts 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Incumbents seeking reelection for the at-large positions are Owen M. Zaret, Brad J. Riley and Koni Fay Denham, while newcomer Jason “JT” Tirrell seeks a first term.

As for precinct races, uncontested candidates include James “JP” Kwiecinski, Homar Gomez, Thomas William Peake and Salem Derby.

The sole contested race for City Council will occur in Precinct 5, where former councilor Tamara Smith and previous candidate Jared Hinkle face off.

Meanwhile, in the more contentious School Committee race — which gained interest after several turbulent months last spring — four sitting members and six newcomers are up for election.

Sitting members include incumbents Megan W. Harvey and Benjamin R. Hersey, along with Laura N. Scott and Sam Hunter. The latter two were appointed by City Council to fill two vacant seats last spring after members quit amid controversy around the failed superintendent search.

Newcomers seeking a seat on the committee include Linda Sue Markee, Eric R. Guyette, Patricia E. Covalli, Lynda A. Broadhurst, Raymond W. Sliz and Timothy M. St. John.

In addition to electing City Council and School Committee members, voters will also respond to a ballot question around ranked-choice voting — a system in which voters rank candidates in order of preference — for multi-winner city races including at-large city councilors and School Committee members.

Ranked-choice voting is currently used for precinct council and mayoral elections.

Northampton

In Northampton, many elected offices are uncontested, although School Committee and councilor-at-large positions face contested races and several newcomers are on the ballot for other positions.

The city’s councilor-at-large race features four candidates seeking two positions: Marissa Elkins, Garrick Perry, David Murphy and Roy Martin. Elkins is an incumbent running for reelection, while Perry is the current Ward 4 councilor. The other at-large seat had been occupied by Jamila Gore, who had announced she would not seek reelection.

The council features three new names on the ballot — Deborah Pastrich-Klemer, representing Ward 2, Quaverly Rothenburg, representing Ward 3, and Jeremy Dubs, representing Ward 4. Though all the wards are officially uncontested, Rothenburg faces a write-in campaign from Claudia Lefko for the Ward 3 seat.

Returning members of the council are Ward 1’s Stanley Moulton, Ward 5’s Alex Jarrett, Ward 6’s Marianne LaBarge and Ward 7’s Rachel Maiore.

The School Committee’s two at-large seats also are contested, with incumbents Gwen Agna and Aline Davis running against current Ward 1 committee member Meg Robbins. The committee’s Ward 4 seat is also competitive, with incumbent Michael Stein facing off against Endamian Stewart. Newcomers to the ballot include Karen Foster, the current Ward 2 city councilor, Ann Hennessey, representing Ward 5 and Kerry LaBounty, representing Ward 7.

The other members of the school committee — Holly Ghazey, Emily Serafy-Cox and Margaret Miller are returning this year uncontested, although Ghazey is now running for Ward 1 instead of Ward 2.

The election for the Forbes Library board of trustees is also contested, with four people running to serve on the board’s three seats. Those candidates are Kathleen Wight, Anne Teschner, Ruth Francis and Alexander George.

The city’s elector under the Oliver Smith Will is contested, with David Murphy also running for the position against Mary Odgers.