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Ricketts runs for Precinct 5 council seat in Greenfield

GREENFIELD — Town Council Precinct 5 candidate Penny Ricketts says she supports an updated wetlands ordinance written by the town’s Conservation Commission, but said she cannot support an ordinance written by a Greenfield resident who wants to ban plastic bags and would need more information to support a Native American burial ground ordinance.

“I do not support a ban on plastic bags,” said Ricketts. “I think we’d need to involve more businesses before moving ahead with something like that. I think right now it would just be an added burden to them.”

Ricketts said she does support a Conservation Commission rewrite of the town’s current wetlands law, but is hesitant to support a Native American burial ground ordinance at this point, because she is afraid it might be intended to block development.

“The timing is suspicious,” said Ricketts, who supports big box development. Many proponents of the big box store planned for French King Highway have said they believe the proposed Native American burial ordinance is one more attempt to stop large development in Greenfield.

“I’ll definitely need to hear more about such an ordinance before I could or would support it,” she said.

Ricketts said she is a supporter of the town’s new sustainable master plan.

She said she also supports a proposed vacant property ordinance that would require property owners to take more responsibility in the upkeep of their abandoned or vacant properties.

“I went before the council a few months ago to discuss the unsafe conditions at the Candlelight Motel, as well as trash being dumped there,” she said. “We have a similar issue in Precinct 5 on Orchard Street — an abandoned house that may very well be unsafe for neighborhood children or a haven for the wrong people. It’s more than an eyesore.”

Born and raised in Wendell, Ricketts, 53, moved to Greenfield in 1979.

She said Greenfield needs a Town Council that is interested in supporting police, fire, public works, public schools and other town departments that provide services to residents.

“I also think councilors need to help implement the new sustainable master plan by deciding what makes sense and then prioritizing,” she said.

“The one thing I want to make sure I do as a councilor is hear all voices,” said Ricketts. “The council should be doing more of what the majority of the town wants it to do.”

Ricketts said she loves that Precinct 5 is so diverse, spanning from Highland Avenue and the Congress Street area to Traver Court and Maple Street, as well as Bingville.

“We’ve got people living here on all rungs of the social and financial ladders,” she said. “I think I’d be the perfect person to represent them.”

Ricketts said she believes that sitting on the council does not always allow someone to vote what their heart tells them.

“You have to go to the facts and numbers and do what the majority wants,” she said. “You may want to do the opposite because of what you believe, but you can’t always do it.”

Ricketts, who works at Home Depot on the Mohawk Trail, said anyone who wants to serve as a town councilor must learn to check their ego at the door.

She said the council needs to pay attention to homelessness, poverty and the huge drug problem in Greenfield.

“I feel like there needs to be a more diverse group of voices on the council,” said Ricketts. “All in all, I think we’re all more alike than we are different, because we all care, but you have to have people with different ideas so everyone feels heard.”

She said the problem, for instance, is that the town has been divided over several issues over the years, with the big box project being one of the biggest.

Ricketts said councilors need to concentrate on the issues within the council’s purview.

“Sometimes councilors get caught up in issues that they can do nothing about,” she said. “The council is the legislative body and therefore deals with budgetary issues, ordinances and appointments, those types of things.”

She said it’s good for councilors to have other interests and work on other projects, but they are limited when it comes to decision-making about issues that don’t fall under their jurisdiction.

Ricketts lives on Main Street and currently serves on the town’s Human Rights Commission.

She has been known to stand on traffic islands on Main Street on hot, humid days to raise money for the town’s annual July 4 fireworks, as well as raise money for local scholarships.

The preliminary election will be held Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Guiding Star Grange Hall, 401 Chapman St. Two candidates will advance to the town’s June annual election.

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