CLARKSBURG — Local business owner Jeffrey Levanos is the sole candidate for one open seat on the Select Board; his election next month will double the size of the board.
The three-member board is down to one member, and Town Hall is lacking a town manager and administrative assistant, with temporary appointments to fill recently vacated positions of treasurer/tax collector and town accountant.
The past few months, town government has been roiled by resignations and the resulting disruptions to town operations.
“I’ve never seen it like this, and I’ve lived here my whole life,” said Levanos, who served on the Select Board until 2019. “It was not something I was looking to get back into. I was done. But, I don’t see anybody stepping up to the plate.”
A special election is set for Dec. 7 to replace Select Board member Ron Boucher, who quit a week after a late August meeting at which he raised his voice to then-town Administrator Rebecca Stone in a dispute over the town’s bookkeeping. Stone walked out.
Then, Select Board member Allen Arnold resigned late last month, because of family obligations, too late to add the vacant seat to the Dec. 7 ballot. The earliest that vacancy can be filled is during the town election in May 2022.
Levanos noted that without a quorum, the Select Board can’t meet to conduct town business.
Levanos had hoped that, by this point, there would have been a younger generation of residents serving on the board.
“I’m not excited to go back to the Select Board,” he said. “I’m in my 60s — we need new blood, new ideas on that board.”
Once he is back on the board, he hopes that, with a quorum, the Select Board can relieve the bottleneck for town business.
“We need to at least stop the bleeding,” Levanos said. “We need to get a town administrator in place and stabilize the town. Then I believe we can get back on our feet when May [elections] come around.”
Levanos served on the Select Board from 2012 to 2018, and again in 2019, to complete an unfulfilled term.
Resignations from the Select Board have come amid turnover in Town Hall. The town administrator and administrative assistant recently resigned. Though the job vacancies have been posted, those positions will remain open until the Select Board has another member.
Town Accountant Angela Garrity resigned in late September, citing administrative issues. Her job is filled temporarily by Donna Estes, who has been the town’s accountant in the past, according to Select Board member Danielle Luchi.
The town’s bookkeeping issues began after former Treasurer/Tax Collector Ericka Oleson’s departure in December 2020. Issues included incorrect payroll procedures and unpaid invoices. Amy Cariddi since has been appointed as temporary town treasurer/tax collector.
Luchi, as chair of the single-member board, is unwilling to hire a town manager or administrative assistant on her own, so, she awaits the election of a second member — and a quorum — to appoint the new hires. Both openings have been advertised.
Levanos, owner of Jack’s Hot Dog Stand in North Adams, is optimistic that the town issues will be resolved over time.
“It’s going to be a battle, it really is,” he said. “But, we’ll figure it out.”