Amid increase in Selectboard members, upcoming Northfield election sees no contests

  • Northfield resident Mary Bowen is running unopposed for a newly created two-year seat on the Northfield Selectboard. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Northfield resident Bernard “Bernie” Boudreau is running unopposed for a newly created three-year seat on the Northfield Selectboard. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Northfield Selectboard Chair Alexander Meisner is running unopposed for re-election to a three-year term. Contributed Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 4/12/2021 9:29:44 AM

NORTHFIELD — After town voters approved an increase of the Selectboard from three to five members last year, the 2021 annual town election on May 4 sees three candidates running unopposed for three different seats.

Mary Bowen is running for a new two-year seat, Bernard “Bernie” Boudreau is running for a new three-year seat and current Selectboard Chair Alexander Meisner is seeking re-election to another three-year term.

In-person polling will take place Tuesday, May 4, from noon to 8 p.m. at Town Hall. Residents may request an absentee ballot from Town Clerk Dan Campbell, townclerk@northfieldma.gov or 413-498-2901, ext. 112, by noon on May 3. Completed ballots should be returned to the dropbox at the rear entrance of Town Hall before polls close.

Mary Bowen

Bowen has co-owned the Northfield Creamie for about 14 years with her husband, Tim, who works in the film industry and regularly travels from Northfield to Los Angeles, where the couple met in 1991. Their son, Otis, is about to graduate from Pioneer Valley Regional School.

“By being on the Selectboard, I can participate on the ground floor of really what it takes, intellectually and financially, to grow the community,” Bowen said of her interest in running for election.

She supports finding ways to expand business opportunities and grow a “greener economy” in Northfield, while being conscious of residents’ interest in maintaining the town’s historical landscape. She noted that the project to restore the Schell Bridge could boost tourism in town, and she hopes being on the Selectboard will allow her to be at the forefront of other “collaborative” conversations for potential developments.

“With the Schell Bridge coming along, people on bicycles and tourists will be going from one end to the other… and I want them to be able to stop in Northfield, and not just at the Creamie,” Bowen said.

Bowen volunteers at Dickinson Memorial Library, is a member of the Northfield Area Tourism and Business Association (NATABA) and works as a long-term substitute teacher at Pioneer. She was appointed by the current Selectboard to the Campus Center Community Collaborative Committee, which recently formed to guide future conversations with members of The Moody Center and Thomas Aquinas College on proposed developments that would need the town’s approval.

Bernard “Bernie” Boudreau

Boudreau has lived in Northfield with his wife, Karen, since building their home 33 years ago, and said he was encouraged by fellow residents to run for election to a three-year seat on the Selectboard. He said he has heard “a lot of talk about wanting the town to thrive again,” and he remembers when there were more businesses in town.

“I’d like to get back to that. I want Northfield to be a good place to live and to work in,” he said. “I thought it was when we first moved up here and built our house, and I’d like it to be like that again.”

Boudreau, who is also running for the Board of Sewer Commissioners, works as the wastewater treatment operator, facility technician and boiler operator at Coca-Cola in Northampton, and has held his wastewater license since 2003. He said he is not concerned about the time commitment of accepting both offices, if elected.

“I’ve always said, ‘Don’t complain about things if you’re not willing to step up and do something about it,’” Boudreau said. “I don’t really have complaints, but we’ve expanded to five seats and people need to run. I was a proponent of having five seats, so I put my hat in the ring because I feel like the town can always use one more honest and open person in a town office.”

Alexander Meisner

Meisner, who is seeking re-election, said he is pleased to be running unopposed.

“I’ve always thought the performance of an elected official in their term is based on if they can win a re-election,” Meisner said. “So the fact that no-one is running against me shows that maybe I am worthy of re-election, but we’ll let the voters decide that.”

While Meisner is only running for a second term, which is often exceeded by local Selectboard members, he said he “believes in terms limits” and will likely not seek re-election at the end of this upcoming term. One goal he has for a second term is “to improve the morale of town employees.”

“I’m not saying that I overlooked that my first term, but I didn’t spend enough time on it,” he said. “I want to try to do my best to enact policy and make sure us policymakers, the Selectboard, can focus more on what we can do to make the town operate in a more positive state and make all departments as efficient as possible.”

During his first term, Meisner said he participated in the hiring of Town Administrator Andrea Llamas, helped navigate the installation of an electric vehicle charging station at Town Hall, oversaw a roughly $400,000 cellphone tower lease agreement and helped navigate changes in town operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also pointed to his strong attendance, having only left a Selectboard meeting early once when his wife, Haleigh, gave birth to their son last October.

“I think that shows that I care,” Meisner said. “The only promise I made during my term, from the very beginning, was that I would fully participate in this position and try to represent everybody, and to continue to give a fresher perspective. And I think I’ve accomplished that.”

Speaking over the phone, he acknowledged a conversation from a March 23 Selectboard meeting where he felt he was “taking the blame” for policies or actions of past Selectboard members. Meisner said he recognizes that “part of signing up for this job is taking on the responsibility of past faults that have occurred.”

“If something happened five years ago and someone wants to complain about it,” Meisner said, “guess what, you’re the person that they can complain to.”

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.



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