Candidates lacking in Lenox election
LENOX -- Citizen participation in town government is at an ebb this election season with no contested races and three open positions lacking any candidates.
"It is unusual for Lenox," said Town Clerk Jenifer Picard.
Picard said she doubts there will be any impact from moving the local election ahead by six days to coincide with the April 30 statewide Democratic and Republican primaries for the U.S. Senate seat.
Last year's annual town election was a much more spirited affair, with a five-way race for two Select Board seats, four candidates for two School Committee spots, and a contested race for a Planning Board position. Several issues had stirred up residents including the Kennedy Park memorial controversy, an ongoing dispute over sandwich-board regulations downtown, and ongoing uncertainty over the best way to market the town to tourists.
Asked whether fallout from the tumultuous period in town government in 2011 and a portion of 2012 may have held down participation for this year, Picard said it was hard to tell but noted that since last summer, there has been little volatility at Town Hall.
Picard also said people "are having a hard time with the new regulations for open meetings" as a possible reason for the low interest.
"The open meeting law has preyed on people's minds, they have to deal with legal issues," she said. "Everyone's questioning everyone else. You can't really blame them. You've got to be a strong person."
She also observed that volunteer board members are working harder than ever and must take an ethics test every two years.
"It's not easy for everyone," Picard said.
On the April 30 ballot, Kenneth Fowler is running unopposed for his seat on the Select Board. He is the board's chairman.
Other uncontested elected positions include town moderator, with longtime incumbent Hugh Cowhig seeking another one-year term; two Board of Assessor posts with James Sorrentino, an incumbent, and Wayne Lemanski running; and a three-year School Committee position, held by Veronica Fenton, who is on the ballot for another term with no opposition.
Gary Schiff is seeking another five-year Planning Board position. Diana Kirby is on the ballot for a five-year seat on the Lenox Housing Authority.
Fowler, Cowhig, Sorrentino, Fenton, Schiff and Kirby are all backed by the Lenox Democratic Caucus.
There are no candidates for three additional open positions: a two-year unexpired term on the Planning Board, a three-year post on the Board of Health, and a three-year School Committee seat.
To contact Clarence Fanto:
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto.
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