Friday June 8, 2012

PERU -- Townspeople on Saturday will decide two contested races between a sitting official and a newcomer with an eye for efficient spending for the Select Board and the Finance Committee.

For a three-year term as Selectman, incumbent Edward P. Richards is defending his seat against William A. Tatro.

Richards, 78, has been a Selectman for the past nine years, and served two three-year terms on the board several years prior. He counts among his successes as a town leader helping to secure state and federal funding for the reconstruction of Middlefield Road/Skyline Trail, a thoroughfare that crosses Peru between Hinsdale and Middlefield.

That accomplishment as well as numerous contracts related to Tropical Storm Irene recovery and the new fire department stem from what Richards says are the hours every day he spends on the work.

Because he is retired, Richards said he is able to commit himself fully to the town.

"My way of operating is you’ve got to spend the time if you want to do the job," Richards said. "If I’m not elected, I just don’t think the town’s going to get the service that it deserves."

Tatro, 70, who unsuccessfully ran for Selectman last year as a write-in candidate, was motivated to put his name on the ballot this year by a desire to rein in town expenditures.

Comparing the town to its neighbor to the north, Windsor, Tatro said that Peru outspends the similarly sized municipality. He said he’d be interested in decreasing townspeople’s tax bills.

"We’re just a small town, and I think spending is getting out of control," he said.

For a five-year seat on the Finance Committee, incumbent Allan Gordon is up against town government newcomer Nancy B. Booth.

Booth, 58, purchased a home in Peru in 2006 and moved permanently to the town in 2009 from Eastern Massachusetts, where she was head of payroll and benefits for Millipore Corporation in Billerica, a biomanufacturing and life sciences firm.

Now in charge of payroll and benefits for Hampshire College in Amherst, Booth believes her corporate finance experience will be of use to the town.

"I don’t think it’s initiating change right away, because it’s a lot to learn," Booth said. "But reading the annual reports for the last several years, it’s very interesting to me how it’s allocated, and where potentially it might be more efficient."

Allan Gordon could not be reached because he is out of the country.

Four other elections are unopposed: S. Christine Richards for another three years as town clerk; incumbent Douglas A. Haskins for a five-year term on the Planning Board; incumbent Coralie E. Pelkey for another two years as constable; and Richard S. Harrington for a one-year position as tree warden.

If you go ...

What: Peru town election

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday

Where: Peru Community Center, 3 East Main Road