SHEFFIELD -- Voters on Monday will decide during a special election among selectmen candidates who share similar goals but offer different professional backgrounds.
Martin Mitsoff and David Smith Jr. are competing to fill the seat vacated by former Selectman Ted Dobson, who resigned in December citing a lack of time to fulfill the responsibilities.
Both candidates have community-minded resumes and say they seek to heal friction resulting from the proposed development of a Dollar General store. However, they say their professional background and approach make them uniquely prepared for the role.
Mitsoff is an independent investment adviser at Berkshire Financial Strategies, LLC, who also might be a familiar face as a Sheffield firefighter and emergency medical professional. He has also served on the ad hoc Community Development Strategy Committee.
Smith is an experienced Select Board member, having previously served on both the Sheffield and Great Barrington boards. He owns Smitty’s Sandwich Shop and is a Sheffield Kiwanis Club member, and he has experience on the Finance Committee and Council on Aging.
Smith was defeated for re-election to a second term by Dobson, who ran on a platform of opposing a Dollar General here.
Residents have been divided over the proposed development, but both candidates have said the store is a by-right zoning use, regardless of their personal opinion. Both candidates say they’re passionate about their community, and they want to focus on the town’s future. They said affordable housing and jobs that would allow young adults to stay in town are other emphasis areas.
Mitsoff said he comes with the experience of working for three and a half years after college as an urban planning consultant for small towns in New York and Indiana.
Mitsoff said the town’s ongoing zoning bylaw review is an important step toward crafting "smart, intelligent, economic development and not growth at any cost."
He said he’d engage the town in a dialogue about creating growth residents are willing to support.
"I work more on the basis of cooperation and open dialogue to address the issues," said Mitsoff, comparing himself to Smith. "And I try to develop mutual respect between myself and those around me. That requires good listening skills and a sound decision making process and ultimately it requires decisions, and I recognize that."
Smith said he’d help complete town projects that include completing the ground floor of the senior center, improving accessibility to town facilities, and fixing a road in Ashley Falls that has been worn down by the Housatonic River.
Smith described himself as a "pro-business kind of guy," and he said he’d like to explore the development of another business park.
"Twenty years of municipal experience of knowing what needs to be done in Selectmen’s office," Smith said about his qualifications. "Knowing the finances and knowing the town hall employees has to give me a slight advantage. I won’t have to spend much time, if any time, to understand what the selectmen’s role is and get up to speed."
To reach John Sakata:
or (413) 496-6240.
On Twitter: @jsakata
Where to vote ...
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday at the Sheffield Senior Center, 25 Cook Road. Today is the final day to vote by absentee ballot at Town Hall, which closes at 5 p.m.