Williamstown Selectmen candidates look to the future
WILLIAMSTOWN -- Four candidates are vying for two open seats on the Board of Selectmen in the town's annual election on Tuesday.
The selectman's race is the only one contested in 2014 -- four other positions are unopposed. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday at the Williamstown Elementary School.
The four selectman candidates tout a wide range of both civic and private experience, and hope voters will give them the nod for a three-year term after former selectmen Jane Allen and David Rempell opted not to seek reelection.
Hugh Daley, a small business owner and Williamstown resident of 14 years, has focused his campaign for selectman on curating responsible economic development.
"We need to become more focused on it," Daley said. "North Berkshire is shrinking, and we need to engage w our neighbors and figure out a way to stop."
Daley said he supports a feasibility study for Mount Greylock Regional High School, which will be up for a vote at next week's annual town meeting, to help inform decisions on the school's future.
"The number one thing we have to offer as a town is a great educational system,"
The parent of three young boys, Daley said it's important to work with other communities in the region on economic development.
"I really want the Williamstown of 20 years from now to have a viable economy," he said. "We're all too small to do it alone."
Candidate Jack Nogueira currently serves as chairman of the Rent Control Board, on which he has held a seat for 15 years.
In his run for selectman, Nogueira has focused on two issues. First, he said, is the need for a new police station, and second is the need for more affordable housing.
The construction of a new space for police is "urgent," Nogueira said. "Those men and women that work in that building deserve a better working environment."
Nogueira also questioned just how affordable some affordable housing proposals have been, and says there remains a need.
"Do we really need it? Affordable housing is needed anywhere you go," Nogueira said.
As for the high school, Nogueira is a proponent of renovations.
"I would look at adding on to the school and using what we already have," Nogueira said, citing predictions that the town's population will continue to decline.
Nogueira also said he's committed to the town, and committed to serving it.
"I'm not a yes man," he said. "If I get elected to the board, I will look at everything with fairness"
Gary Fuls, a 12-year veteran of the town's volunteer fire department, said as a younger father of three girls, he'll bring a different perspective to town government.
"I'm stuck in every issue this town has," Fuls said.
Fuls' father is moving to town and could take advantage of affordable housing, he said, while at least one of his daughters is set to be at the high school for each of the next 16 years.
Despite his personal interests, Fuls said it's important to take emotion out of these issues and take a realistic approach based on facts.
"Everybody has to come together to figure things out," Fuls said.
Affordable Housing could become something the town is proud of, Fuls said, if it carefully balances the need with what's realistic.
Candidate Andrew Hogeland, currently the chairman of the Finance Committee, is focused on renovations to Mt. Greylock and the police and fire stations.
"I am the only candidate that has worked on any of these issues since I was past chairman of the high school building committee and currently on the public safety building committee"
Hogeland would be a proponent of a combined fire and police station, he said.
The candidate will also seek to improve regional economic development by working with neighboring communities.
Hogeland also said the time is ripe for affordable housing.
"I initiated a proposal at town meeting last year to take a time-out from the divisiveness to allow for a better-informed and less adversarial decision-making process," Hogeland said. "The process resulted in the selection of a developer for Cole Avenue, and now we need to move forward on that."