Cheshire Select Board picks new town administrator

The Cheshire Select Board on Tuesday chose Ashfield Town Administrator Jennifer Morse to take the same job in Cheshire. Morse has said she wouldn't take the job unless it became full-time, a decision the annual town meeting will make on Monday night.

CHESHIRE — Voters on Monday will choose two new selectmen from among three candidates during the annual town election.

Michael “Mickey” Biagini Jr., Raymond Killeen and Shawn McGrath are vying for two three-year terms on the Select Board. The remaining elected positions on the ballot have a single candidate or none at all.

One Select Board seat is vacant because veteran board member Robert Ciskowski resigned in late January, reportedly unhappy with the board’s direction and with what he perceived to be a lack of transparency.

Ronald DeAngelis is vacating the other seat, opting against seeking reelection. He first was elected two years ago, when the board expanded from three to five people.

Biagini finished third in a three-way race to fill the two new positions, during a special election in August 2019.

Biagini, a cousin of current Selectman Mark Biagini, spent 24 years on the Cheshire Board of Health and is on the town’s Water Commission. He says he was compelled to give voters a choice at the ballot box.

“I have overwhelming support from people who want me to run again,” he told The Eagle.

One of the hot topics in town is whether Cheshire’s next town administrator should be full time to meet the demands of the job.

“It’s something I would have to look at. I don’t know if we need to have someone for 40 hours a week,” Biagini said.

The Select Board is seeking a successor to Ed St. John IV, who resigned as the part-time administrator late last year.

As for the ongoing discussion over uses for the former Cheshire Elementary School, Biagini says he isn’t keen on the town being a landlord. Cheshire retained ownership when the school closed in 2017.

Currently, Youth Center Inc., which serves the Adams-Cheshire area, and the central office of the Hoosac Valley Regional School District rent space in the nearly 62,000-square-foot building.

McGrath, the comptroller at Guardian, formerly Berkshire Life, in Pittsfield, is making his first foray into municipal government.

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“This was a good opportunity ... to have an impact on the town,” the Cheshire native said.

He calls reuse of the school a “critical issue” because doing nothing is “the worse thing” the town could do. One option being floated is moving municipal offices from the cramped, aging Town Hall to the more-accessible school space.

“If the opportunity makes sense to consolidate town offices, it will all come down to cost,” he said.

On the question of whether to move to a full-time town administrator, he said it’s all about finding the right person for the job and offering a competitive salary.

Killeen, a bus driver for the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority, seeks a return to a Select Board he served on from 1996-99. He didn’t seek reelection because of work commitments. He decided to run when he learned that no candidates had yet emerged about a week before nomination papers were due.

If elected, Killeen says, he brings no agenda, with no definite opinion on the town administrator situation and school reuse.

“A full-time administrator may be more than the town needs,” he said. “Once you put someone on full time, you have to pay benefits. The matter needs more research on my part.”

Killeen also said he would need to further explore the pros and cons of moving some town offices and departments into the former elementary school.

Incumbents are running unopposed in six other seats up for election: Everett “Gus” Martin for Board of Assessors; Rick Guerney, Water Commission; Brian Trudeau, Board of Health; Bethany DeMarco, Hoosac Valley Regional School Committee; Tax Collector Rebecca Herzog and Town Clerk Christine Emerson. All are seeking three-year terms.

Stephen LaFogg looks to finish out the last year of DeAngelis’ term as a water commissioner, with Aaron Singer seeking a four-year term on the Planning Board.

The positions in need of write-in candidates are a three-year stint on the Cemetery Commission, a five-year Planning Board seat and a final year of a vacant seat on the Planning Board.

Cheshire voters also will vote on candidates for the School Committee from Adams, as committee members are voted on districtwide. Running unopposed for a three-year term is incumbent Adams member Michael Mucci.

Polls are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Cheshire Community/Senior Center on School Street.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at