HINSDALE — Two of the town's better-known residents — both lifelong residents who pride themselves on willingness to engage anyone in town — will face off for an open seat on the Select Board in annual town election on Saturday.
"I've experience life, death and growth in this town," James Sullivan of Longview Avenue, one of the candidates, said. "I want to experience growth again. I want better for my town."
His opponent, Harvey E. Drosehn, of Middlefield Road, said, "I'm going to be fair and work for the whole town. Flying off the handle like some people do doesn't get you anywhere. A lot of the business is common sense."
The two share many more similarities — on paper.
Both are career craftsmen: Drosehn, a precision machinist, recently retired after a career working for the Berkshires' biggest names in industry — General Electric, Beloit, Crane & Co. and Lockheed Martin; Sullivan now owns a plumbing and excavation company and earlier worked construction.
Additionally, both retain positions in town government: Drosehn has served on the Finance Committee for the last year-and-a-half; Sullivan runs meetings as town moderator.
If he wins, Sullivan will surrender the moderator role; Drosehn can stay on his committee no matter the result.
But a major difference between the two comes in the realm of style.
Sullivan, 53, passionately involved in town politics since the '90s, made no bones about what, and whom, he liked and didn't, in the town's recent, politically tumultuous years.
He remained good-natured in one-on-one conversation, but earned a reputation for boisterousness in Town Hall.
Since beating out John Conner for moderator in last year's election, Sullivan has tempered his ways, but he remains an active critic and a fixture at most public meetings.
Sullivan aims to prioritize improving roads, to encourage new youth programs to attract younger residents and to bring tireless energy and objectivity to the office.
He said the current Select Board over-relies on the Hinsdale's recently hired Town Administrator Ryan Aylesworth, its first. Sullivan believes the town administrator has a useful function — working between departments and seeking out grant money for the town — but should not do the board's work.
"The people sitting on the board right now are not doing the job they were elected to do; they're putting it off on him," Sullivan said. "That's not what we want. We might as well have a mayor. If you're the responsible party, if you're signing your name to something, then you should know about it, and if you don't, shame on you for not knowing."
For his part, Drosehn said he doesn't like to speak ill of anyone in town, but definitely believes in the current direction things are moving.
The town needed to make the investments presently being made — in its highway crew, its Police Department, by hiring Aylesworth — and "it seems the majority of people are in agreement," he said.
"I don't like to see my taxes go up any more than anyone else, but I approve of the spending because it needed to be done," Drosehn said. "I'd like to get in there and help keep the costs down while keeping us moving forward."
He added, "We can again have the town we once had if we start taking care of business. I'd like to take part in it."
Drosehn participated as a member of the committee that studied the prospect and eventually recommended the hiring of a town administrator.
One way to keep costs down is to keep Aylesworth and Highway Superintendent Rene Senecal on the hunt for grant money — which Drosehn says he hopes to encourage and participate in as much as possible.
Saturday's ballot also contains four people seeking three, three-year seats on the Finance Committee — Earl Peck, Richard Scialabba, David Kokindo and Vivian I. Mason.
Additionally, Peter Persoff is running unopposed for a three-year term as an assessor; Barry J. O'Keefe is running unopposed for a three-year term as tree warden and Sullivan will appear unopposed for a five-year term on the Planning Board, but the town's former highway superintendent, Raymond Huntoon, called The Eagle to say he wanted to run as a write-in candidate against Sullivan for the spot.
Polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday at Town Hall.
Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.