Shelburne ready for Monday’s election

  • Incumbent Selectman Joseph Judd
  • Selectman candidate James Gamache
  • Planning Board candidate Josiah Simpson
  • Incumbent Town Moderator Sylvia Smith

SHELBURNE — A selectmen’s race is among the highlights of this year’s annual town election, on Monday . The polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Memorial Hall on Bridge Street.

Eighteen-year incumbent Selectman Joseph Judd is facing a challenger in his bid for re-election: James Gamache of Mohawk Trail. Also, besides running for selectman, Judd is running for election as town clerk, to replace retiring Town Clerk Beverly Neeley.

James Gamache is an Ashfield native who has lived in town since the age of 5. Gamache, who just finished building a log home on the Mohawk Trail, is an electrician who has worked for TransCanada for about 30 years and is currently in charge of rebuilding Deerfield River’s hydroelectric station No. 2, which was flooded during Tropical Storm Irene.

At a recent candidates’ night, Gamache said his running is “nothing adversarial” having to do with Judd. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “Sometimes, if you don’t know everything that has been going on, you have a little different perspective, a fresh perspective,” he said.

If elected, Gamache said he would like to create a town commons for Shelburne Falls — possibly on the privately owned land that housed a temporary office for Greenfield Savings Bank during its recent renovation. Gamache thinks it would be good to have a town green space, as a gathering space for street festivals, music and other events.

When Judd first joined the Board of Selectmen, at the urging of long-time Selectman Stanley Gawle, he says one of his first jobs was to clean out a culvert while fellow Selectman Russell Davenport used a chain saw to clear fallen trees after a bad storm. Since then, he said, “I’ve worked with a lot of selectmen; you can be a ‘working’ selectman or you can just show up and do what the (town administrator) tells you to do.”

Judd said one of his proudest achievements as selectman was in helping neighboring towns Buckland and Shelburne to come together, forming a village partnership in 1997. “That’s when things began to flourish,” he said. Judd said the Shelburne Falls Partnership initiative has brought $15 million worth of grants into the towns and “kept the burden off taxpayers’ shoulders.”

He is also proud of helping to form the four-town Senior Center consortium, although Colrain withdrew from that consortium last year.

Judd said his highest priority for the town in his next term is to bring broadband to at least 95 percent of the town. “That will bring new jobs, new people and expand our horizons,” he said.

Judd also wants to see the Arms Library/Pratt Memorial Library building renovation and as chairman of the Mohawk Long-Range Planning Committee, he wants to see the committee recommend ways to make the Mohawk Trail Regional School District more affordable in the face of enrollment declines.

Besides his work for the town, Judd is an outdoorsman, outdoor writer and consultant. He also served three terms as president of the state’s chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Judd recently retired from Blackmer Insurance after 38 years there, which he believes will give him the time needed to serve as town clerk. Judd said he had thought about running when Neeley announced she is going to retire, then waited to see if anyone else would step forward for the one-year town clerk’s position. After learning one else chose to run, Judd discussed running for town clerk with his wife, Linda, checked with the state Ethics Commis-sion to see if he could hold both positions, and then filed nomination papers. He said he would like to extend the town clerk’s office hours and learn more about the job’s required computer technology.

“This is a role I would like to do,” he said. “My goal is to continue Bev’s work.”

Planning Board: Simpson

Josiah Simpson, 30, of Shelburne Falls is a new candidate for an uncontested five-year seat on the Planning Board. If elected, Simpson would replace Matt Marchese, who is not seeking re-election. Simpson, the son of glass artist Josh Simpson, is a landscape designer and land planner who has lived in the village for five years.

“I do have experience with development, design and problem-solving,” he said. “I write well and have all the qualities for working for the town.” Simpson said he is good at collaborative work and “I don’t have any agenda items I want to push through. So it’s a clean slate for me.”

Moderator: Smith

Moderator Sylvia Smith is seeking re-election to a second one-year term. She has lived in town since 1975 and is a former 13-year school committee member.

Other incumbents seeking re-election are:

Norman Beebe, for a five-year seat on the Recreation Committee; Tree Warden James T. Richardson for a one-year term; and Shelburne Free Public Library Trustees Sherry Taylor and Debra Washer, both for three-year terms.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: dbroncaccio@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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