|By Chris Maza|
LONGMEADOW Following Select Board Vice Chair Mark Gold's recent announcement to seek re-election, resident Alex Grant formally declared his candidacy.
Grant is an attorney and writer of a column that has been printed bi-weekly in the Longmeadow News since 2007. He is a graduate of Stanford University and Cornell Law School.
Grant, Gold and Selectman Mark Barowsky all filed nomination papers for two seats on the board, which will be decided upon at the June 11 Annual Town Election.
Less than a week after speaking in favor of additional money for the School Department as opposed to supporting the Select Board's proposed fiscal year 2014 budget that featured zero percent increases, Grant made his announcement in a May 13 press release, asserting that "the Select Board is out of step with the voters and that change is needed."
"I am running to open up our town government by writing about it, by telling residents what really goes on at the Select Board, and by listening to residents more than the Select Board does now," he said. "In recent years, town politics has been a conversation involving a fairly small number of people, and that needs to change. We need to engage a larger number of voters if Longmeadow is going to move forward and be a great place to live for people of all ages."
Grant spoke at length at the May 7 Annual Town Meeting on the school budget issue, criticizing the Select Board for their emphasis on putting money toward capital projects, stating the board did not have a capital plan. Residents eventually voted in favor of an amendment that increased school funding by $353,000, a figure initially agreed upon by representatives of the School Committee and Select Board, but later rejected by a vote of 3-2 by the selectmen.
He also stated in his press release that the Select Board was mistaken in requiring zero percent increases for town departments. Instead, he said, a level-funded approach should have been used.
Grant called the addition of $353,000 to the school budget a "limited victory," asserting that the funding approved was still closer to the zero percent increase the Select Board supported than level services and simply served to avoid cuts to staff and services at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
"If you want to have a shot at avoiding these same kinds of cuts to services next year, you need to vote on June 11 to change the lineup on the Select Board. Otherwise, we will be having the same conversation next year. The choice between the two incumbents and me for the two open seats is clear," he said
Voters interested in learning more about Grant should visit www.alexgrantlongmeadow.org or stopping at his booth at Long Meaddowe Days on May 18 and 19.
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