SHEFFIELD -- Edwin "Ted" Dobson credits a quickly organized and effective write-in campaign led by local supporters for his surprising victory on to the Board of Selectmen in Monday's election.
Dobson, owner of Equinox Farm, launched his candidacy on Thursday -- four days before the election -- and received 401 votes, enough to beat incumbent David Smith Jr. who received 344. Smith had been on his way to running unopposed until late last week.
Dobson was formally sworn in as a selectman on Tuesday morning, Town Clerk Felecie Joyce said.
Dobson's first meeting will be on Monday, May 20.
"People want a change. I don't think it's more complicated than that," Dobson said. "They felt disenfranchised. They felt their voice was not being heard."
Dobson said he was recruited to run as a candidate. He said residents were upset they could not voice concern about a proposed Dollar General in town. Dobson's campaign included an energized troop of volunteers on an hourly rotation along Route 7 with signs in the days leading up to the election. There was also email and social media outreach, Dobson said.
Dobson said he has not been active in town politics in the past. Smith, a former Great Barrington selectmen who owns Great Barrington-based Smitty's Sandwich Shop, was running for a second term and he had served on town committees.
"[The campaign] felt spontaneous, but it was also a well-organized, focused group of people who were determined to give their very best," Dobson said.
Smith did not return calls for comment on Tuesday.
Dobson attributed the win to voters desire for more transparency and better communication from town government. He also said he would call for a thorough vetting of a building permit provided to Dollar General.
The building permit has been a source of controversy after Building Commissioner Thomas Carmody approved the re-submitted Dollar General plans.
Dobson questioned the due diligence of the review.
"I think that's a very reasonable question as a selectmen," Dobson said.
The Planning Board has requested the permit be rescinded on grounds that the permit was issued by the building commissioner before an application fee was paid and without procedural review by town boards.
Sheffield's town counsel last week said a Zoning Board of Appeals had no jurisdiction to review the building permit and emphasized that the building commissioner works for the Board of Selectmen.
Dobson also said he'd be interested in issues related to agricultural land.
"I am very much pro-agriculture and the type of agriculture that goes on."
To reach John Sakata:
or (413) 496-6240.
On Twitter: @jsakata