Great Barrington election features five races, ballot question

This story has been modified to clarify information about the Community Preservation Act.

GREAT BARRINGTON -- Voters at Tuesday's annual town election will peruse a robust ballot that will feature five races and a ballot question.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Great Barrington Fire Station for precincts A,C and D and at the Housatonic Community Center for residents of precinct B.

Regardless of who wins the race for a three-year slot on the Board of Selectmen, it will be a new face.

Democrat Edward D. Abrahms, of Pleasant Street, will face off against Republican John W. Beebe, of Egremont Road. They will be filling the spot vacated by board member Andrew Blechman, who has decided not to run for re-election.

Abrahams, 54, who said he has attended every meeting of every board in town, believes that his strength is "in bringing people togather, especially people who disagree. It isn't hard to listen to people."

A fundraiser and management consultant, Abrahams is a single father with 25 years of business experience. "I know how to look at budgets and make decisions," he said.

Abrahams said he has visited every business in town, and spoken with nearly every business owner to better understand their point of view.

Beebe, 26, is a native of Great Barrington who recently returned to the area to give back to his community. In a recent letter to The Eagle, Beebe explained that he advocates more fiscal prudence in town and school government and opined that many residents of the area were suffering from "tax fatigue."

Beebe is also an advocate of making the town more business-friendly by reducing the tax and regulatory burdens on business owners.

Longtime incumbent Democrat Edward G. McCormick of Haley Road will be running against David C. Magadini, who is unenrolled, for a one-year term as moderator. McCormick handily beat Magadini in last year's election.

In the race for a pair of three-year seats on the Planning Board, incumbent Jonathan Hankin of West Plain Road will be joined by challengers Patrick Fennell of Main Street and Malcolm R. Fick of Maplewood Avenue. Fennell is a Republican, Fick a Democrat. Hankin is unenrolled.

Incumbent Dana K. DelGrande of Kirk Street, Housatonic, will vie for a five-year term on the Housing Authority with Richard S. Needleman of Stanley Drive. Both are unenrolled candidates.

The final race will feature two non-incumbents, Michelle M. Loubert, of Park Street North, running against Michael Owen Wise, of Castle Street, for a three-year term on the Finance Committee.

Incumbents running unopposed include Claudia A. Ryan, of South Egremont Road, for Board of Health; Ron Majdalany, of Alford Road, and Wise, both running for re-election to the ZBA and Hilda B. Shapiro, of Egremont Plain Road, seeking another term as Library Trustee. All are three-year terms.

Non-incumbent Adam L. Gudeon, of Forest Row, will also be seeking a spot on the Library Trustees.

The ballot question will ask voters to adopt another aspect of the Community Preservation Act.

Great Barrington adopted the Community Preservation Act (CPA) in 2012. At that time, voters decided to exempt the first $100,000 of residential assessed value from the CPA surcharge. At the 2013 annual town meeting, voters also decided to exempt the first $100,000 of assessed value of commercial and industrial properties also However, according to state law, the exemption needs to be adopted by both Town Meeting and at the ballot. Thus this ballot question is the second step in that process.

The CPA, endorsed by the Select Board, is a state initiative that supports open space, affordable housing and land preservation projects. Last year, 148 cities and towns participated in the matching-fund initiative.


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