3-way race for Stockbridge Select Board seat develops amid Fire Dept., Bowl drama

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STOCKBRIDGE — Even though the curtain has just gone up on election season for town government offices, a potential three-way race for a seat on the Select Board already is shaping up.

There's a surge of candidates waiting in the wings against a backdrop of continuing drama over the recent dismissal of the town's fire chief and the Conservation Commission's rejection of a proposed herbicide treatment to start cleaning up weed infestation on Stockbridge Bowl. The town is facing likely appeals and legal action on both issues.

Select Board Chairman Donald Chabon has taken out nomination papers while he decides whether to seek a second three-year term on the three-member board. Chabon told The Eagle on Monday he is awaiting the outcome of the Stockbridge Democratic Town Committee caucus on March 23 to nominate party-endorsed candidates for the May 21 election.

Challenger Michael Nathan, a town resident since the early 1990s, has entered the race, gathering the 25 signatures of registered voters needed for candidates to gain a spot on the ballot. "At this point, I'm committed to running," he said.

"There's so much division and anger on the Select Board," added Nathan, an organizer of the Stockbridge Bowl's Zebra Mussel Committee that opened an inspection station at the town boat launch in 2010 to make sure the invasive mollusk species is kept out of the state-owned lake. "We hear the term `going nuclear,' but we don't hear about what's good for the town and how do we make it better for everybody."

As the Lake Drive Association's representative to the Stockbridge Bowl Association, Nathan — a full-time shorefront resident — contended that the Bowl "is in such bad shape" because of milfoil weed infestation and the Select Board's handling of the worsening problem.

Nathan advocates expansion of the board to five members, and he questioned last week's termination of Ernest "Chuckie" Cardillo as fire chief. Cardillo was dismissed because of $83,000 in overcharges to the town perpetrated by two vendors supplying disposal materials to the department for the past six years with high-pressure scam-like marketing tactics.

Nathan praised Cardillo's leadership of the department, pointing out that at least 12 volunteers resigned last week out of loyalty to Cardillo. "Being a fire chief is more important than ordering goods," he said.

Also running is Matthew Szwyd, Cardillo's son-in-law and a leader of the firefighters' group that left in support of the former chief, who remains on the Select Board currently after winning re-election last May, unopposed for his second three-year term.

Szwyd said that he seeks to "represent the town's growing demographic of young families on the Select Board. Raising two daughters here, my concern is not only the Stockbridge of tomorrow but the health and sustainability of the town's economy, enterprise and culture over the next 50 years."

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Employed on the waitstaff at the Red Lion Inn, he said that "affordable housing should be available, the town's commercial district should be vital, employment in town should be viable, and the town's nonprofits should be supported in their effort to promote the culture, events and services that make Stockbridge such a beautiful and safe place to call home."

Szwyd also said that "the conceptual struggle in Stockbridge has always been one between preservation and progress; the Cat and Dog Fountain, meant to symbolize this dichotomy, is a constant reminder of how important the interplay between future economic development and the town's historic character really is. Advancement is meant to augment, not replace, what is there.

"A Select Board should comprise diverse opinions, experiences and concerns. Stockbridge should consider a fresh face in town politics."

Candidates considering running for town positions have until March 29 to take out nomination papers from the town clerk's office. The deadline to return them with the certifiable signatures is April 2, though candidates have until April 18 to withdraw if they change their minds.

Voter registration deadline is April 30.

Other candidates who have taken out nomination papers include Terry Iemolini, seeking a third three-year term as town clerk and Nancy Socha, running for the one-year unexpired term currently held by Stuart Hirshfield, recently appointed by the Select and Planning Boards to fill the seat formerly held by Lisa Sauer.

Three other Planning Board seats will be on the ballot — a two-year term currently filled by Christine Rasmussen, who was appointed to succeed Eugene Talbot, who resigned, and a three-year slot held by Barney Edmonds, who was appointed to complete Ruth Pearce's term after she moved out of the area. A five-year term now held by Marie Raftery is also on the ballot.

On the Board of Assessors, Douglas Goudey has picked up nomination papers for another three-year term.

Other open positions are on the Board of Health (a three-year slot currently held by Catherine Plakun), Parks & Recreation (three years, incumbent Julie Edmonds), Sewer and Water Commission (three years, incumbent Peter Socha) and Housing Authority (five years, incumbent Timothy Minkler).

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.


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