34 consider running for Town Council

Nick Grabbe

A total of 34 Amherst residents have taken out nomination papers for the new 13-member Town Council.

Fifteen of them have collected the signatures they need to put their names on the ballot for the Sept. 4 preliminary election and filed them with the town clerk. The others have until this coming Friday, June 29, at 5 p.m. to file their signatures.

Voters will get a chance to meet the candidates for the 10 district councilor seats at a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters and scheduled for Aug. 21. Candidates for the three at-large seats will meet voters at a League forum scheduled for Aug. 29.

The Sept. 4 preliminary election will reduce the field to no more than four candidates for the two seats in each of the five districts, and no more than six candidates for the three at-large seats. The preliminary election for state representative, featuring candidates Mindy Domb and Eric Nakajima, will also be on Sept. 4. The actual election will be Nov. 6 (assuming legislative approval of the schedule).

Here are the candidates who have filed their signatures for Town Council, as of Friday. Asterisks indicate Town Meeting members, and the links refer to campaign web sites.


Alisa  Brewer*, Select Board member, former School Committee member.

Mandi Jo Hanneke*, former vice chair of the Charter Commission.

Andrew Steinberg*, Select Board member, former Finance Committee member.

Robert Kusner*, former Select Board and Conservation Commission member.

DISTRICT 1 (Precincts 1 & 3)

Cathy Schoen, health policy expert and former UMass professor.

Nicola Usher*, member of the Wildwood Governance Council.

DISTRICT 2 (Precincts 2 & 6)

Peter Vickery*, attorney, Chamber of Commerce president.

Lynn Griesemer, chair of the Fire Station Advisory Committee.

DISTRICT 3 (Precincts 4 & 10)

Steven Braun*, Finance Committee member.

DISTRICT 4 (Precincts 9 & 5)

David Reffsin, longtime North Whitney Street resident.

Niels La Cour*, planner at UMass, formerly at Town Hall.

Stephen Schreiber*, UMass professor, architect, chair of Planning Board

Evan Ross, UMass lecturer

DISTRICT 5 (Precincts 7 & 8)

Aaron Hayden*, former Select Board and Planning Board member.

Shalini Bahl, founder of Downtown Mindfulness.

Here are the names of those residents who have taken out nomination papers but had not filed them by Friday:

AT LARGE: Victor Andres Nunez-Ortiz, Bruce Smith, Janaya Collins, Juan Manuel Ruiz-Hau, Dillon Maxfield, Paul Bobrowski, James Pistrang*, Ivan Babian.

DISTRICT 1: Sharon Povinelli*.

DISTRICT 2: Nunez-Ortiz and Ruiz-Hau.

DISTRICT 3: George Ryan*, Robert Greeney*, John Page, Dorothy Pam*, Carroll Robertson.

DISTRICT 4: James Roche, Jacqueline Maidana*.

DISTRICT 5: Ted Parker, Jeffrey Lee*, Paul Bobrowski, Samuel MacLeod.

Three of these people have taken out nomination papers for both at-large and district seats on the Town Council. That means they have not decided which seats to pursue, and they cannot be on the ballot for both.

If you’re unsure which of the five districts you live in, check out the map on Page vi of the Charter Commission’s final report.

This list of 34 names includes many residents who are experienced in town government, and also some interesting newcomers. I would like to see more young people, more women, more opponents of the new charter, and more people of color running. There’s still time to take out nomination papers at the town clerk’s office at Town Hall and collect signatures (25 are required for a district seat, 50 for an at-large seat).

Councilors will receive stipends of $5,000 a year, $7,500 for the chair, who will be elected from within the council. Here is my list of qualities that make for effective councilors (please suggest others):

  • Knowledge of town politics or the ability to quick-study it;
  • An interest in serving the public and connecting with constituents;
  • The ability to keep lots of details in one’s head;
  • A life situation that enables the devotion of lots of time to the task;
  • A vision for the direction Amherst should go.
  • An ability to work well with others, including those with whom you disagree.



Comments 1

  1. Thanks for the roundup on where the field of candidates stands for now, and the different ways that voters can educate themselves about the candidates between now and the preliminary election. One little point of feedback on the interface: If there’s a way to update the web links to open in a new browser window rather than in the same window, that would be awesome.

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