Stockbridge Planning Board member to switch to Select Board in uncontested race


STOCKBRIDGE — Voters at Tuesday's annual town election will find no contested races, but one newcomer to the Select Board.

Donald M. Chabon is taking the seat held by Charles Gillett, the current chairman, who is retiring from the board. Chabon will leave the Planning Board after seven years as a member to avoid any perceived conflict of interest.

In a conversation on Wednesday, he noted that as chairman of the town's Democratic Committee for the past five years, he sought to encourage citizens to run for public office.

"This year, even though we don't have a contested election, I consider it pretty successful," he said. "We actually have good people running for every position. They're all filled."

Chabon said he decided to run for the Select Board because "this year, looking at what was going on, I just felt I had some perspective, experience and skills."

After discussing it with friends and associates, he added, "I decided this would be a good opportunity to take the plunge and run for office. I think it will be a good experience and I look forward to contributing."

He's focusing on expenses borne by taxpayers, the search for a new town administrator and the ongoing exploration of shared services with Lee and Lenox.

Chabon said he plans to talk with new Police Chief Darrell Fennelly, "and I'm sure we'll be on the same wavelength."

"I don't anticipate there'll be another conflict like there was," Chabon pointed out, referring to criticism voiced by some citizens over the policing style favored by former Chief Robert Eaton.

"Expenses are a big concern for a lot of people," Chabon said. "I'd like to hold taxes steady or decrease them for all of us if possible, so we need to look at what we're spending our money on. Belt-tightening needs to be looked at constantly."

"I'm in information-gathering mode," he said. "I've been advised that a new selectman goes through a learning curve, so I'm trying to go up the steep curve as quickly as possible. I'm confident my fellow citizens will let me know if they disagree with me."

"Stockbridge takes a good part of its character and value from its history," said Chabon, "and its history is in part its buildings." He cited the just-completed renovation and expansion of the town library as well as ongoing discussions over the future of Procter Hall, the old Town Hall.

"I'm very interested in preserving these, when possible," he said.

Chabon emphasized that he wants to encourage involvement in town affairs by full-time residents, second homeowners and tourists.

"I want people to let us know their opinions, to attend meetings, participate on commissions," he added.

"I love it, I want to encourage it and when we're having Select Board meetings, if people are agreeing or disagreeing with what's going on, I want to hear about it."

Chabon, 71, a New York City native, said his family first came to the area in the 1930s and he has been a visitor for his whole life. He has been living full-time on Lake Drive for 20 years in the house purchased by his parents in the 1960s.

Now retired, Chabon worked in labor and industrial relations and also specialized in communications technology. He was employed by Century Berkshire Cable, its successor Adelphia Cable, and until last year was responsible for Time Warner Cable's Berkshire County quality control.

Candidates for two five-year slots on the Planning Board are incumbents Eugene Talbot and Gary M. Pitney, the current acting chairman. Incumbent Douglas M. Goudey is seeking another three years on the Board of Assessors.

Town Clerk Teresa Iemolini is on the ballot for re-election to a three-year term.

Incumbent Peter J. Socha is running for three years as a Sewer and Water Commissioner. Other candidates are Susanna L. Rogers for a three-year post on the Parks and Recreation Committee and James R. Welch for five years on the Housing Authority.

Seeking a three-year slot on the Board of Health is Catherine F. Plakun.

All the listed candidates are nominees of the Stockbridge Democratic Caucus.

The deadline to pick up an absentee ballot from the town clerk's office is Monday at noon.

Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Senior Center at the Town Offices.

Stockbridge has 1,632 registered voters.

Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.


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