Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Election "Contest"

At least the upcoming March 25 Amherst local election is, unlike last year, a contested one.  Sort of.  But in the (sort of) all important Select Board race, where four candidates will vie for two open seats, the two insider candidates -- Andy Steinberg and Connie Kruger -- are virtually unbeatable.

The quirk in an election with two open seats is that each voter gets to vote for two candidates.  Two like minded candidates then combine forces and easily double their vote tally, making outside loners like Helen Berg and John Boothroyd marginal candidates.

Potentially the most interesting Select Board candidate, Umass Grad Student Matthew E. Cunningham-Cook, failed to return his Select Board nomination papers with 50 required signatures, but he did sign up for Town Meeting.

He said he became too busy working on calling a Special Town Meeting to try to enact a Home Rule Amendment for Amherst to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour.  Not sure how well that will go over with local businesses in our service economy that rely on a, um, cheap labor.

But hey, I'm sure he could talk Senator Elizabeth Warren to come speak in its behalf.

Thus the only interesting race is going to be for School Committee where incumbent Katherine Appy will take on newcomer Viraphanh Douangmany.  With the current disarray in the schools it's probably a positive not to be an incumbent.

Town Meeting interest picked up dramatically in the final stretch and there are now contests in all but one Precinct out of ten for the (sort of) all important three-year seats.

Even though the Amherst Redevelopment Authority has not met in over a year two candidates -- Paige Wilder and Pamela Rooney -- will be vying for one seat with a five-year term.  And the Amherst Housing Authority also has two candidates for one five-year term, Peter Jessop (also an "insider") and activist Tracylee Boutilier.

Last year with no town wide seats contested, voter turnout was a pathetic 6.6%.  With all these "contests" this election should see a whopping 15% turnout.


Anonymous said...

Town meeting can raise the minimum wage? I happen to be for raising it, but at a statewide, or better, national level. Doing it just town-wide would make a very uneven playing field for Amherst to compete in the local Valley economy. Richard Marsh

Anonymous said...

Some of us would go out of our way to patronize businesses with a higher minimum wage. So the statement that an uneven playing field would be created should NOT be taken at face value.

There are no styrofoam cups at Dunkin' Donuts in Amherst. We should go out of our way to buy coffee there.

There are employee benefits at Trader Joes in Hadley and what appears to be a higher level of morale. Once again, that matters.

I'm not sure that labor costs are the tail that wags the dog in every case. We can avoid a race to the bottom here.

Anonymous said...

I get that Anon 12:18, and local locals may be willing to pay slightly more, as I do here in Northampton when I shop at Serio's or State Street. But a lot of your businesses depend on out of towners that may have no such loyalties. As you said, "not in every case"… it may hurt more than it helps, of course I'm not sure. But I know that if I wanted a successful downtown, I'd be fighting for an even playing field. I wouldn't want to sacrifice my neighbors' businesses for "the cause". RM.

Tom McBride said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...


I'm curious, what does someone have to write to have it removed? You seem pretty opened to the whole free speech thing.

Larry Kelley said...

Tom McBride asked me to remove it as he meant to put the comment under my more recent post, "Let The Scrutiny Begin".

You can see said comment at 6:17 PM.

I'm very open to the whole free speech thing. But I will not publish the N-word (even the hip, shorter, supposedly endearing version) or the C-word.

Which reminds me: another year without "The Vagina Monologues" at ARHS.