Three-way race for Northfield Selectboard
Northfield Selectboard candidate Jed Proujansky.
Northfield Selectboard candidate Dianne Cornwell.
Chester "Chet" Sinclair
NORTHFIELD — Three residents will vie for a single Selectboard seat in the Tuesday annual town election.
Polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m. in Town Hall.
Caucus nominees Jed Proujansky and Dianne Cornwell will be joined on the ballot by Chester “Chet” Sinclair, who took out nomination papers to run for the board.
Selectboard Chairwoman Kathleen Wright decided not to run for re-election after serving two three-year terms.
Proujansky is the director of information technology for Consolidated Health Plans in Springfield.
If elected, he will draw on his managerial experience “to develop processes that get things done efficiently, to involve the right people, and to come up with a solid decision-making process,” he said.
Proujansky has been a School Committee member for 13 of his 17 years in Northfield.
“I have experience managing large budgets,” he said. “The school budget is larger than the town’s (operating budget). I’ve managed that, and budgets for companies. I’m very familiar with the budget process, and using controls to get to a place where budgets are workable, doable and manageable.”
Proujansky moved to town from Greenfield in 1996.
“My wife and I wanted to move to a place that was less busy and hectic,” he said. “We drew a circle around Greenfield, and Northfield was the nicest town within it.”
He would like to see his town hold onto its open spaces, and promote agriculture. He’s also a big believer in the environment, and wants to carry on the momentum of the Green Communities initiative in town.
Why did Proujansky decide to run for Selectboard?
“It seemed like the Selectboard would give me the opportunity to contribute to the town in a way I haven’t before,” he said.
Cornwell is the director of the Bernardston Senior Center, where she has been for 10 years.
Cornwell also serves as Bernardston’s representative on the Franklin Regional Transit Authority’s Advisory Board.
In Northfield, she was appointed to the town Bylaws Committee, and is part of the Master Plan Steering Committee as well.
She previously served Northfield as the chairwoman of the Zoning Board of Appeals. She is also a former member of the Greenfield Town Council and Finance Committee.
She also worked on the precursor to the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, the County Commission. There, she helped develop the COG’s fee for service structure.
Cornwell said public transportation for senior citizens is a big issue for her. She wants to help bring a fixed bus route to town.
Cornwell said she is in favor of a careful evaluation of Northfield’s town government structure, a cause being undertaken by the Town Governance Study Committee.
If elected, she said, she will work to give the Selectboard’s power back to the people, by engaging the community and listening to public concerns. She also wants to ensure that the board’s decisions are based on facts, rather than emotion.
“Some of the problems the board has had are because the rules go out the window, and personalities play into things,” she said.
Sinclair is a computer consultant, timber-frame builder and former software engineer.
Raised in Hadley, he moved to Northfield in 1966 with his parents, after graduating from high school. He graduated from Nathaniel Hawthorne College in 1971, got a job in the audio visual department of the Amherst school system and moved to New Hampshire, where he lived for 32 years.
Until 1988, he was a senior software engineer at Digital Equipment Corporation. Not enjoying the work, he left, and decided to build his own, timber-framed house in Rindge, N.H. There, he made his first bid for selectman.
“I lost by 14 votes, in a town of 5,000,” he said.
In 2005, he moved back to Northfield, but moved to South Hadley to be with a girlfriend in 2007.
There, he was elected to one of four vacant town meeting representative spots in his district, as a write-in candidate with merely two votes — his own and his girlfriend’s.
“I decided that, if people there were so complacent, I would run for selectman the next year,” he said. He did, and lost, receiving about 400 votes.
Sinclair became interested in Northfield politics last year, when a group of residents decided to form an unofficial committee to research different models of town government, to see what may best serve Northfield.
However, Sinclair admitted that he didn’t make it to any of the group’s meetings, and missed his chance to apply to the official, town-sanctioned committee that resulted from the working group’s efforts and a special town meeting vote.
If elected, Sinclair said his work experience will be an asset to the board.
“Being an engineer, you have to make decisions, design and plan projects, and lay them out for others to understand,” he explained.
All three candidates feel that Northfield residents should become more involved in town government, through voting, attending annual town meetings, and making their voices heard by the Selectboard.
They also agree that the Selectboard should be more pro-active in town matters, such as the transition of the former Northfield Mount Hermon campus.
Proujansky, Cornwell and Sinclair are also concerned about rising operating costs, particularly the school budget.
And, echoing many residents, they’d all like to see the town have a gas station again.
David Rainville can be reached at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279