James Cornwell resigns from Orange Selectboard


Staff Writer
Published: 5/15/2019 10:40:58 PM

ORANGE — James Cornwell has resigned from the Orange Selectboard, two years and two months into the three-year term he was elected to in 2017. 

Cornwell, when contacted Wednesday, did not give an explicit reason for his resignation, but did say he no longer wished to deal with the “stress” that comes with being a Selectboard member.

“I refused to be consumed by stress, and I refused to be stressed by foolishness,” Cornwell said. 

Cornwell’s resignation leaves the Selectboard with four members, Selectboard Chairman Ryan Mailloux, Selectboard Vice Chairwoman Jane Peirce and members Tom Smith and Bill Wrigley. 

His resignation comes just over one year after the Orange Selectboard’s last departure — then-Chairman Richard Sheridan who resigned May 2, 2018, without public explanation. Sheridan later attributed his resignation to health reasons, while also alluding to “political” issues. 

In the case of Sheridan, the Selectboard chose not to hold a special election to fill the vacancy, and remained a four-person board until the 2019 town elections.

“It was not an easy decision,” Cornwell said. “I was born and raised in this town, and I came back 17 years ago, so it was really not an easy decision.”

Cornwell, 76, graduated from Ralph C. Mahar Regional School in 1960, spent 20 years in the U.S. Air Force and then worked on the road for NASCAR race teams.

Since moving back to Orange in 2002, he has been active in town government as a member of the Trustees of Soldiers’ Memorials and as a cemetery commissioner, in addition to his role as clerk on the Selectboard. 

Cornwell’s resignation comes during the height of the town’s annual budgetary process. At a three-body meeting between the Selectboard, Finance Committee and Orange Elementary School Committee last week, discussions of a Proposition 2½ tax override vote were prominent, with the Finance Committee pointing to a roughly $730,000 budgetary shortfall. 

Cornwell did not deny that budget season was a recent stress, but said “there are many reasons” he chose to resign. 

Reach David McLellan at dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268. 


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