Great Barrington ballot takes shape as 2 Select Board incumbents face challenger

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GREAT BARRINGTON — Two Select Board members, including the chairman, are facing a challenge from a former Finance Committee member on election day.

In addition to a Select Board race, the May 14 town election will feature contests for Finance Committee and the Housing Authority. The Democratic and Republican town committees and Eileen Mooney's NEWSletter will hold  a public forum for all candidates May 1 at the Claire Teague Senior Center.

Leigh Davis, a former Finance Committee member, has jumped into the Select Board race, in which two seats are open. Incumbents are Daniel Bailly and Chairman Stephen Bannon, who is vying for what would be his fourth term.

All three say they will work to push for expanded economic development.

Bannon, 60, said he wants to also continue working on infrastructure maintenance, which, he said, is crucial to keeping the town in its "very good financial shape."

"It's always about money," he said. "But one bridge could be $4 million, so we need to look at other ways to fund that other than [the] taxpayer."

Bannon, a town native, also said his nine years on the board bring an "institutional knowledge" that serves the town well.

Bailly, 44, wants to find ways to keep expanding the tax base. He said there has been a lot of forward movement in the past two years with projects like 47 Railroad, a mixed rental housing and retail complex, and Powerhouse Square, which will house a larger Berkshire Food Co-op and 22 condominiums.

"This will help out the taxpayers," he said.

Bailly, a Housatonic native who has served two terms, said he wants to also encourage affordable housing. He wants to "keep Great Barrington going in a positive direction."

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Davis, 52, has worked a number of jobs in the 10 years since she moved here with her three children.

Davis said she wants to share her skills from her current job as development director for Eagle Mill Redevelopment LLC, which is working on historic mills in Lee and Adams. She said her new experience dealing with federal and state agencies, legislators and town boards will help.

"I've grown a lot and stepped up to the point to where I want to add my voice and use my experience," she said. "The time is right."

She is particularly interested in doing a "deep dive" to get town-owned properties like the former Housatonic Elementary School, Cook's Garage and Ried Cleaners back on the tax rolls.

"What do we have, and what do we want to become of these properties?" she said.

Davis, who spent three years on the Finance Committee, said she is also an advocate for senior and affordable housing, for sharing services with other towns to save on operating costs, and for getting broadband into Housatonic.

Other contests

On the Finance Committee, two seats are open. Incumbent Chairman Thomas Blauvelt is running for re-election and Janet Lee is stepping down. Former committee member Walter "Buddy" Atwood III and newcomer Meredith O'Connor are both on the ballot.

And for the Housing Authority, one seat is open. Incumbent Karen Smith is seeking another term, and Mooney is also on the ballot.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.


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