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Two contenders for Conway Selectboard

CONWAY — The former town treasurer is challenging incumbent Jim Moore for a three-year Selectboard seat. And two residents will vie for an open Planning Board seat.

The annual election is scheduled for Thursday.

Political newcomer Elizabeth Braccia, currently the town accountant for Greenfield, brings to the contest an extensive financial and municipal background and a commitment to transparent government.

Braccia served as treasurer in Conway for six years followed by a two-year stint as accountant for the Franklin Regional Council of Governments. In 2011, she was hired by Greenfield.

A Connecticut native, Braccia worked for Pitney Bowes, a systems development corporation before coming to Conway eight years ago.

If elected, Braccia hopes to lend her experience to the town that helped get her start in municipal government.

“One of the reasons I’m running is when I moved here I didn’t have municipal experience. Conway hired me and gave me that experience,” Braccia said. “I want to give back to the town. It gave me a huge step into municipal accounting.”

Braccia’s main goals are to keep the town financially strong and to help proposed projects move forward. This includes proposals for the Rose property off Shelburne Falls Road.

Of the several ideas proposed for the 11-acre cornfield, Braccia sees senior housing as a good use.

If elected, Braccia will join a board with a reputation marred by accusations of secret meetings and allegations of state Open Meeting Law violations. Over the past year, the Selectboard has had two open meeting law violation complaints filed against it by former Town Administrator Ed MacDonald and The Recorder.

Braccia promises to reverse the board’s reputation and provide a transparent government open to communication.

“I’m huge on transparency,” Braccia said. “Posting a meeting isn’t good enough to me. You have to reach out to groups, give them a heads up or put something in the newspaper. It’s important.”

A lack of transparency and communication is one issue that angered many town boards and committees this year when they discovered the Selectboard had quietly approved plans for a municipal complex site analysis at the Rose property.

As a town accountant versed in municipal law, Braccia believes town officials never move forward with a money appropriation until the townspeople votes on it.

“You need the people behind you,” Braccia said. “Transparency is key to that.”

Incumbent Selectman Jim Moore is seeking a second term to keep the town finances in check.

“We can have a wish list of things we’d like to do when we can. We don’t have to put the town budget on a credit card,” Moore said.

Moore sees a second term as a chance for him to delve deeper into town government and policies. Like many selectmen, Moore had to get over the job’s learning curve.

“I tried to listen to the concerns of people in town,” said Moore. “I think I’m accessible to the town. I’ve known them for a long time.”

On the side, he works as a substitute mailman.

Moore has called Conway his home since 1976.

“(Conway) has become my home. I was welcomed here,” Moore said.

Three years ago, Moore entered the political fray for the first time. The Alabama native was formerly the pastor for years at the United Congregational Church on Whately Road. Before that, he served as pastor of the First Congregational Church in Huntington.

Moore managed to sidestep the criticism of the board over its planning for the Rose property as that effort was led by his two fellow board members.

David Chichester and Heidi Flanders will compete for the open planning spot.

Natalie H. Whitcomb is seeking reelection for a three-year term as assessor. Carl W. Nelke is running for a three-year term on the Board of Health while a one-year term on the Board of Health remains open.

Elaine F. Campbell is running for another three-year term on the Conway School Committee while Cynthia J. Ouimette runs for the three-year Frontier Regional School Committee seat. Virginia A. Knowlton is seeking re-election to town clerk for a three-year term. Collin J. Burt is running again for a one-year term as tree warden. Brian Blakeslee, Ronald Hawkes and James Recore are seeking re-election again for the three-year terms for the three constables positions. J. Nicholas Filler will seek reelection as a one-year term as town moderator.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at::
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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