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Ashfield board, townspeople seek election

ASHFIELD —Putting aside their differences after the resignation of Chairman Douglas Field, the two remaining Selectboard members called for a special election, so that the town will get through its budget-planning season with a full Selectboard.

Tuesday night was the latest the board could have voted on holding a special election, since the winning candidate will only fill the vacant post until annual town election in May. By law, the special election must be held within 90 days of the Selectboard vote.

The board’s vote was applauded by a group of townspeople, who submitted a petition signed by 173 residents, asking that a new selectman be elected “as soon as possible.”

The Selectboard will vote to set dates for the town caucus and special election at its meeting on Monday, set for 6:25 p.m. in Town Hall. Pending their approval, the special election will likely be held in early February, according to Town Clerk Ann Dunne.

Another issue of the board’s reorganization has been which selectman should be appointed as chairman: Paullette Leukhardt, who has been a selectman since May 2011, or Ron Coler, who was elected in 2012. Both members decided to take up this potentially divisive issue at a later meeting, and have agreed to run the board “in tandem” for the time being.

The town’s Selectboard had been “co-chaired” by former members Thomas Ulrich and Dave DeHerdt in 2009, after then-chairman Bill Perlman had resigned and before Ted Murrary won a special election for Perlman’s seat.

Field resigned Nov. 12, citing frustration with unresolved housing issues as a factor in his decision to quit.

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