Adams town election features 3 contested races


ADAMS -- Three races are contested in the town's annual election set for Monday.

Lawn signs are scattered across town supporting each of the two candidates for one open selectman seat. Two candidates are also vying for the town treasurer/collector and assessor positions.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday in the DPW garage on North Summer Street.

Two-term incumbent Michael Ouellette is facing off against newcomer Jeffrey Snoonian in the race for a three-year term as selectman. Ouellette says he hopes to continue the work he's started in his six years as selectman, while Snoonian offers an alternative voice as a newer town resident to spur economic growth and tourism.

"There's a lot of things we started, that we've got going, and I want to see them through," said Ouellette, a lifelong Adams resident..

Ouellette would like to see projects such as a the Greylock Glen revitalization -- a "pet project" -- finalized in his third term, he said.

Disappointed by this year's proposed school budget, Ouellette said he wants to become more active as a Selectman at Hoosac Valley.

"They talked about it being a fiscally responsible budget, but not an educationally responsible budget," Ouellette said. "To raise a family, it means raising the kids, educating our children."

But improving services shouldn't mean raising taxes, Ouellette said. He believes efforts to consolidate some services regionally can bring the town savings and reduce what he said it a "high tax rate" in Adams.

Snoonian, a former partner in two construction companies in Eastern Massachusetts, is focused on filling storefronts downtown. Though he just officially became a permanent resident, Snoonian has owned a home in Adams for four years and been visiting for more than a decade.

"I think this town is ready for a big turnaround," he said. "I don't think the best effort has been made to seek out businesses to come to the area."

The town should be willing to work with companies in order to attract more business -- and residents -- to Adams, Snoonian said, adding he "absolutely" supports tax breaks.

Ultimately, Snoonian said, he would bring a new enthusiasm to the board.

"I come in here with a completely different perspective," he said, adding that he "doesn't see the limitations" to what is possible in Adams.

A second heated race, for the town's treasurer/collector position, also will be put to a vote in light of outgoing Treasurer/Collector Holly Denault's decision to retire.

Melissa McGovern-Wandrei, a Clarksburg native and Adams resident, hopes her more than a decade of experience in the profession will sway voters in her favor. Her opponent, Kelly Rice, touts her experience working for eight years in Town Hall.

McGovern-Wandrei currently serves as the treasurer/collector in Clarksburg and assistant treasurer/collector for the Lanesborough Water Department, while Rice is a financial assistant the Adams Community Development Department.

"I really like it in Adams. Being part of the football an the basketball programs, it is easy to see just how supportive the community is as a whole," McGovern-Wandrei said. "They appear to be in need of somebody with experience and confidence."

McGovern-Wandrei, who has a bachelor's degree in finance, said her experience makes her the right person for the job.

"They need to somebody who knows the ins and outs of the laws," she said, adding "I have a very good network of people that I deal with in the system."

Rice says that although she's never served as a treasurer, she has handled "millions and millions" of dollars in grants in the community development department.

"I'm not certified, but I'm more than willing to get certified," Rice said. "I'm always up to learn more things. ... If I am elected on Monday, I can't wait to start."

Rice, an Adams resident for 30 years, says there's overlap between her current job and the treasurer/collector position. For example, she said, she already knows the town's accounting software.

"I'm more than qualified to do the job," Rice said.

Dennis Gajda and George Haddad are on the ballot for the assessor position.


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