SHEFFIELD -- Two candidates have filed paperwork to run for a seat on the Board of Selectmen left vacant by the recent resignation of a board member.
Sheffield residents Martin Mitsoff and David Smith Jr. submitted paperwork with the town clerk by the Tuesday filing deadline. The special election is scheduled for Feb. 24.
Both Smith Jr. and Mitsoff are competing for the seat previously held by Selectman Ted Dobson, who resigned Dec. 16, citing a lack of time.
Filling the open seat carries a new sense of urgency after Selectwoman Rene Wood broke two bones in her left ankle during a December morning walk. The three-person Board of Selectman has lacked a quorum leading to the cancellation of the last two meetings, according to Town Administrator Rhonda LaBombard.
Wood told the Eagle she intends to attend Monday's Select Board meeting.
"I am going to be back in the game," Wood said.
Both Smith Jr. and Mitsoff have expressed a desire to get past the divisiveness over the construction of a proposed Dollar General store. However, they bring a different set of skills.
Mitsoff is an independent investment adviser at Berkshire Financial Strategies, LLC. He is also a board member for BerkShares, Inc. He recently served on the ad hoc Community Development Strategy Committee. He also volunteers as a Sheffield firefighter and emergency medical technician.
Smith Jr., a former Great Barrington selectman, served on the Sheffield Board of Selectmen until he was defeated by Dobson last year. He is a former member of the Finance Committee, a Sheffield Kiwanis Club member, and he currently serves on the Council on Aging.
Prior to the election, both candidates must be certified, which will likely be completed by Jan. 21.
Mitsoff said he's running because he's the right person to get the town past the ongoing controversy surrounding the building of a Dollar General.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Primax Properties has submitted an appeal in state Land Court over Sheffield's decision to block a project to build a Dollar General store on 660-680 N. Main St. A recent special town meeting concerning funding the legal appeal drew the largest crowd in recent memory, with the town rejecting the allocation of additional legal funds.
Mitsoff declined to comment on the town's ongoing litigation over the Dollar General because he did not know specifics related to the case. He also declined to comment on the proposed construction of the Dollar General.
"The divisions within the town need to be mended among a variety of issues and I think I can help bring the town back together again," Mitsoff said.
Smith Jr. said he's running because he's a strong believer in community service. He said he will bring common sense and experience to the position.
"I think I bring years of experience on two different [select boards] and 10 years on the Finance Committee and [time on the] Council on Aging," Smith Jr. said.
Smith Jr. said the Dollar General has a by-right use to build on the land, and he said, "I don't have a position one way or another" on the construction of a Dollar General.
"I think during the special town election the voters spoke to stop and not spend further dollars [on litigation] and I am hoping that's what the town is doing," Smith Jr. said. "It's time to put this to bed and move on."
Wood said she broke her ankle during a morning walk along Bow Wow Road the day after Christmas. She was walking at 6:30 a.m. with a friend when she slipped on some ice and broke two bones in her left ankle, shattering the bones in multiple sections.
She had surgery on December 30, and she's been told she can not put weight on the foot for six to nine weeks. She'll also have to undergo physical therapy on the leg.
Wood said she considered attending Monday's Select Board meeting, but then she re-considered and told LaBombard she would not be able to attend. She has an additional check-up scheduled for Monday.
"I never broke anything, but my little toe," said Wood, who added, "I have a newfound understanding of a major break."
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