Gray, Rogers vie for Northfield Selectboard
NORTHFIELD — A two-way race for Selectboard is the only contest on the ballot for Tuesday’s town election.
Incumbent Dan Gray will be challenged by former Administrative Assistant Tracy Rogers.
Gray, a local farmer and owner of A-1 Enterprises septic service, is finishing out his first three-year term on the board. He has been a Board of Health member since 2007, and previously served several terms on the Sewer Commission. He has lived in Northfield since 1976.
Gray said he would like to continue to bring transparency to the board’s matters.
“I’d like to see more discussion on issues where there’s discrepancy, and not just a quick vote,” he said.
Though Selectboard members are given much of the information they need ahead of time, Gray frequently asks questions during the board’s televised meetings, so that the answers are available to the public.
“You know people are watching the board’s meetings on TV Tuesday nights,” he said. “What people might hear (about an issue) on TV may not always be the way it should be presented.”
Gray said he would like to see more public participation in Selectboard meetings, but that he will continue to speak up for those who bring their issues to him.
“People will speak out to someone like me, but they won’t always come to a board meeting,” said Gray. “It can be frustrating, it makes me look like a bad dog at times, but I’m just speaking for them. Very rarely do I put my own opinion into it.”
With the town seeking a new, more empowered town administrator, Gray wants to be there for the transition. With several town administrators leaving Northfield in recent years, Gray would like to find and fix the underlying issues.
“You have to ask yourself what it is that’s going wrong here,” he said. “It says to me that there’s something about this town that bothers people.”
He said he would also like to be on the board when the former Northfield Mount Hermon School campus goes to a new owner. If the new owner is a nonprofit as proposed, the town could lose $400,000 in annual property taxes on the campus. Gray said he would like to have a hand in making sure the town’s best interests are protected when a new owner moves in.
Gray said he is not afraid to make unpopular decisions, if he thinks they’re best for the town.
“It’s amazing how quickly you can lose friends when you’re on the Selectboard, but I feel I owe it to the community to be there and speak out.”
Rogers, the emergency preparedness manager for the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, served as the town’s administrative assistant from December of 2009 to October 2010, and was Gill’s administrative assistant from 2007 to 2009. She has been a Northfielder since 2005.
“It would be something new to be a policy maker instead of an administrator,” she said.
She said her time as a town administrator and experience in municipal matters will help if she’s elected.
“I don’t need to start anew, I’ll just be picking up where I left off,” she said.
“I don’t think I will have much of a learning curve,” she said. “I know the open meeting law, ethics, procurement law, how warrants work and town government in general. I know all the department heads, and worked with them while I was (town administrator).”
Rogers sees the proposed natural gas pipeline, the dormant campus, and the transition to a strong town administrator as the biggest issues currently facing the town.
She said she thinks she could use her administrative experience to help a new town administrator get up to speed.
Rogers said she will make decisions based on careful consideration of the facts.
“I’m data-driven, not emotionally driven,” she said. “I work well with others, I look for win-win situations, and I like to listen to all sides before I make a decision.”
Rogers would also like to see more public participation in town matters.
“I know it’s hard for people like me, who work full-time and have kids, but it would be nice to see the younger generation get involved in town government.”
Incumbents running for three-year seats are: Michelle Milton for Board of Assessors, Dan Gray for Board of Health, Lloyd Parrill and John McGowan for Board of Library Trustees, Paul Prest for Board of Sewer Commissioners and Barbara Brassor for tax collector.
Planning Board Chairman Richard Fitzgerald seeks another five-year term, and Dennis Brennan III seeks a three-year position as a veteran on the Board of Trustees of Veterans Memorials.
Polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday in Town Hall.
You can reach David Rainville at: email@example.com 413-772-0261, ext. 279 or @RecorderRain