The 33 candidates who filed signatures to run for Town Council by the deadline are listed below.
Candidates will appear on the ballot in the Sept. 4 preliminary election for the three at-large seats and in four of the five districts. Only in District 1 will candidates not appear on the ballot, as there are only four of them. In the Nov. 6 general election, there will be six candidates on the ballot for at-large seats and four for each district (that is, twice the number of Town Council members). The governor has signed a special act that will allow this election schedule.
Here are the candidates’ names, followed by their ages and addresses. An asterisk (*) indicates a Town Meeting member.
Alisa Brewer*, 54, 5 Fairfield St., Select Board member, former School Committee member
Mandi Jo Hanneke*, 40, 52 Orchard St., vice chair of Charter Commission
Andrew Steinberg*, 70, 17 Hitching Post Road, Select Board member, former Finance Committee member
Rob Kusner*, 58, 49 Van Meter Drive, former Select Board and Conservation Commission member
James Pistrang*, 64, 41 High Point Drive, moderator of Town Meeting
Dillon Maxfield, 27, 290 North Pleasant Street, information technology
Robert Greeney*, 71, 76 McClellan Street, professor
DISTRICT 1 (Precincts 1 & 3)
Cathy Schoen, 70, 519 Montague Road, health policy expert, former UMass professor
Sharon Povinelli*, 51, 493 Montague Road, co-owner, A.J. Hastings
Nicola Usher*, 39, 37 Harris Street, member of Wildwood Governance Council
Sarah Swartz, 48, 11 Meadow Street, farmer, former member of Finance Committee and Agricultural Commission
DISTRICT 2 (Precincts 2 & 6)
Peter Vickery*, 50, 71 Cherry Lane, attorney, president of Amherst Chamber of Commerce
Lynn Griesemer, 71, 83 Flat Hills Road, Chair of Fire Station Advisory Committee
Juan Ruiz-Hau, 42, 86 Pine Grove (withdrew but still on ballot)
Patricia DeAngelis*, 72, 21 Ward Street, teacher
Victor Andres Nunez-Ortiz, 35, 5 Blackberry Lane, veterans advocate
DISTRICT 3 (Precincts 4 & 10)
George Ryan*, 68, 18 Dana Street, professor at Holyoke Community College
Stephen Braun, 61, 180 Lincoln Avenue, Finance Committee member
Dorothy Pam*, 79, 229 Amity Street, lecturer at Holyoke Community College
Joyce Thatcher, 65, 139 Sunset Avenue, psychologist
John Page, 96 North Prospect Street, UMass student
DISTRICT 4 (Precincts 9 & 5)
David Reffsin, 72, 117 North Whitney Street, longtime resident
Niels La Cour*, 57, 124 North Whitney Street, withdrawn but still on ballot
Stephen Schreiber*, 61, 100 High Street, UMass professor, architect, Planning Board chair
Evan Ross, 30, 90 Cottage Street #2, UMass lecturer, environmental scientist
James Roche, 22 Lessey Street #208
Jacqueline Maidana*, 71, 22 Lessey Street #512, teacher
DISTRICT 5 (Precincts 7 & 8)
Aaron Hayden*, 60, 1491 South East Street, former Select Board and Planning Board member
Shalini Bahl, 49, 78 Linden Ridge Road, founder of Downtown Mindfulness
Jeffrey Lee*, 66, 815 South East Street
Paul Bobrowski, 61, 55 Hulst Road, attorney, former Planning Board chair
Samuel MacLeod, 58, 1114 South East Street, publishing
Darcy Dumont, 68, 142 Pondview Drive, retired teacher and climate activist
I believe we are fortunate to have so many candidates who would make excellent Town Council members. I count 18 charter supporters and 10 opponents among the candidates, and the positions of six of them I don’t know. Voters deserve the widest possible choice of candidates.
I want to address some issues raised in a letter to the Bulletin this week by Gerry Weiss, who served on the Charter Commission with me. He maintains that a Political Action Committee that could arise from the pro-charter organization would create the need for another one, presumably for charter opponents. “We’ll be off and running into more pitched battles with the same rancor we saw during the charter campaign,” he writes.
I hope that candidates’ positions on the issues that Amherst must confront will not be easily predictable based on whether or not they supported the new charter. Amherst is a diverse community, and residents have a diversity of opinions. For example, although Weiss opposed the charter, he agreed with most charter supporters on the elementary school reorganization plan.
It is not certain that the candidates for Town Council who supported the charter will actually accept support from the new PAC. This morning I met with two candidates who are weighing the pros and cons.
Weiss is concerned that a PAC would provide a fundraising advantage to the candidates it supports. Lots of people contributed money to the pro-charter campaign, because they supported a new form of government. But I’m not so sure that the PAC would have as big a fundraising advantage on behalf of Town Council candidates. I think most people who give money will give it to a particular candidate.
I was pleased to learn that Weiss and others are investigating a nonpartisan system whereby money could be raised to support Town Council candidates who don’t have a lot of resources. Town Council members should be chosen on the basis of their character, experience and positions on issues, and not elected on the basis of wealth or fundraising ability.
Weiss wants “the most level playing field possible,” and I do, too. But if he thinks that the charter supporters won so overwhelmingly just because of their fundraising and sophisticated campaign tools, he underestimates the impact of other factors, especially the school vote.
I’m not convinced that fundraising will actually tilt the playing field in the campaign for Town Council (as I wrote in this blog post) as much as name recognition will. This is especially true for district candidates, who will rely on personal contact with voters, not advertising blitzes. Some interesting newcomers to the political scene are candidates for Town Council, and I hope they will be able to present their cases to voters.
On Aug. 21 from 7 to 9 p.m., voters will get a chance to meet candidates for the 10 district councilor seats, at a site that hasn’t been finalized. There will be both small-group discussions with candidates and a panel discussion of the Town Council’s role. The League of Women Voters is the sponsor.
On Aug. 29, candidates for the three at-large councilor seats will face voters at 7 p.m. in the Town Room of Town Hall.
The Sept. 4 preliminary election will coincide with the Democratic primary for state representative between candidates Mindy Domb and Eric Nakajima. The League has scheduled a forum on the state representative race July 18 in the Bangs Center.
Although the Town Council map is divided into five districts. voters will cast ballots at the same precinct locations they previously have.