Stockbridge select board hopefuls debate town's future

Sunday May 20, 2012

STOCKBRIDGE -- A low-key, three-way race to serve the remaining year of the recently resigned Robert Flower’s term on the Select Board is among the highlights on the ballot for Tuesday’s annual town elections.

Candidates include Barbara Cohen-Hobbs, Charles "Chuck" Gillett and Harold French. Polls are open at the town offices, 50 Main Street, from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The town has 1,458 registered voters.

Gillett, 65, of Church Street, is the owner of Studley Press in Dalton. Having mailed out postcards to every voter in town, he’s running a telephone campaign, and planned to do a "standout" at the post office on Saturday.

"The town is incredibly well-run," he said. Among his priorities is consideration of a year-round use for the old Town Hall building on West Main Street -- "it’s very challenging and there’s no easy solution."

If elected, he hopes to help "problem solve as issues come up. I’m trying hard to win this."

He identified gaps in cellphone coverage, especially on Main Street, as a pressing concern.

"It’s a little embarrassing when you can’t get a signal at the Red Lion Inn," he said. "It’s a safety issue and an inconvenience."

French, 64, also of Church Street, said that "we’ve got some sacred cows. .. people and organizations the town seems to cater to ... and we’ve got to do better. We’ve got to watch the money. I see some things that don’t make sense and I’d like to at least have a voice to correct those things."

A retired general contractor and former Navy Seabee, French, a town native with roots going back 300 years, declared: "I know what Stockbridge used to be. We used to have a town, now we’ve just got a place. There are no businesses here to serve the locals. All people look at is the tourist trade. They should look at it as the gravy, and the locals as the bread-and-butter."

French asserted that "the town has changed and not for the better in many ways ... I want to try to make a difference." He has served as an EMT for the Stockbridge and Lee ambulance companies as well as a Fire Department officer.

Cohen-Hobbs, 64, of Mah keenac Road, is the town’s Democratic caucus nominee. She said she "wants to see us preserve the quality of life we enjoy here by preserving open spaces and eventually doing something constructive with the old Town Hall."

She called for creation of "an environment where people continue to love where they live and feel proud to be Stockbridge citizens."

Cohen-Hobbs said she also wants to "work at maintaining a conservative, balanced budget ... I just love my town, I’ve lived here my whole life, it’s a very special place and I’d like to see it remain that way."

Cohen-Hobbs has served on the Planning Board and the Parks and Recreation, Sewer Advisory and Community Preservation Committees. She has been an art and photography teacher in the Boston area and is a substitute at Monument Mountain Region al High School.

Selectwoman Deborah Mc Menamy is running unopposed for another three-year term.

Other contested races include a one-year slot on the Board of Health, with Harriet Vines and Patricia Harper on the ballot and a three-year Board of Health opening contested by Stephanie Adler and Henry Schwerner.


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