To the editor: I support Garfield Reed’s bid to be on the Select Board.

As a senior citizen and homeowner, Garfield has resided in Great Barrington for 42 years and continues to work and volunteer in a number of community functions including leadership in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life and Great Barrington's Affordable Housing Trust. In addition to those community efforts, Garfield has served for three years as an associate member of the Planning Board and has actively taken part in discussions of the critical changes facing Great Barrington.

Designated as “best small town” in many publications since 2013, Great Barrington has captured attention across America and beyond. Yet, recent proposed zoning changes are questionable, especially those that do not adhere to smart growth objectives outlined in our award-winning Master Plan. Since many proposals are made or recommended to the community at the Select Board level, we must ensure that our elected officials are listening to the community, not just discouraging them because “it’s not that simple.”

Garfield has shown he understands the impact of bylaw changes on the lives of families at the ground level. He is courageous and debates his points on behalf of the community, even when facing criticism. One current example concerns zoning regulations for cannabis businesses, where Garfield wants to uphold the successful and proven zoning and revenue model demonstrated by Theory Wellness, our first cannabis retailer. He supports healthy, prosperous and community-sensitive standards that work.

Theory Wellness has complied with the town's original standards and respected our traffic, parking broader community considerations, while providing a huge proportion of cannabis-related revenues to the town. Now that New York and Connecticut will allow adult cannabis purchases in their own states, Garfield thoughtfully raises important questions. Should Great Barrington push our zoning regulation beyond its original intent for the short term, only to see possible business failures and decline in revenues for the town?

Garfield is capable of critical analysis, an attribute we value in educating our children. We need this demonstrated on our boards. Garfield’s genial personality and willingness to listen and respect all members of our diverse community make him a very special candidate.

To help ensure diversity on the Select Board, increase healthy debate and broaden our perspective in the face of changes, please join me in supporting Garfield on May 11 at the polls or through absentee ballots. For absentee ballots, contact the town clerk by May 3.

Sharon Gregory, Great Barrington