By Chris Maza
EAST LONGMEADOW – Former Selectman Peter Punderson and resident William Gorman will face off in the race for the seat on the Board of Selectmen to be vacated by Selectman Debra Boronski in the town’s only contested race.
The Town Election is scheduled for April 29.
“There will no preliminary this year. It’s the first time in two or three years because of all of the changes that went on recently,” Town Clerk Thomas Florence said.
Candidates had a deadline of Jan. 28 to return nomination papers and have until Feb. 13 to withdraw, but Florence said it was unlikely that would occur.
By not hosting a preliminary election, the town will save $5,000 to $6,000, he added.
Boronski, who was elected uncontested to fulfill the remainder of the term vacated by former Selectman Enrico “Jack” Villamaino as he was investigated in his admitted voter fraud scheme, had taken out nomination papers, but didn’t return them, instead announcing recently her intentions to run for Gale Candaras’ state Senate seat.
Candaras announced she would not run for re-election, but rather would pursue the position of register of probate.
“When Debbie Boronski announced she was running for state Senate, I had numerous people ask me to run,” Punderson said of his decision to run for office.
Punderson was elected to the Board of Selectmen on Dec. 18, 2012 during the same special election as Boronski, winning the remainder of the term vacated by former Selectman James Driscoll.
Punderson defeated Angela Thorpe by 12 votes, prompting Thorpe to request a recount, which confirmed Punderson’s victory on Jan. 5, 2013.
In April 2013, Thorpe defeated Punderson in his bid for re-election by 84 votes.
Punderson said his time on the board, in addition to his years as a member of the Community Preservation Committee and chair of the Planning Board give him an advantage.
“I think I brought a leadership role to the board when I served and I’m ready to bring that again,” he said. “I’ve familiarized myself with the budgetary and operational needs of the town and I’m 100 percent up to speed. I’m ready to sit down and engage in discussions and start making decisions in the best interest of the town.”
Gorman is making another run at selectmen after two failed attempts against Villamaino and Driscoll, respectively.
“One guy [Villamaino] went to jail, so I guess the people picked the wrong guy then and the other guy, Driscoll, left,” he said. “I’m the only one still here and still fighting for the town.”
Gorman, who has four children and nine grandchildren, stressed that he did not have aspirations for higher office and that his focus would be on the town.
“It seems the Board of Selectmen is looked at as a stepping stone. I’m not looking for a stepping stone,” he said. “I can be a voice for the people because I’m not looking to get ahead. I’m not a politician; I’m just a guy who when he sees something wrong instead of just being a mouth will try to do something about it.”
Gorman, a longtime resident, was a member of East Longmeadow High School’s first graduating class. He coaches youth athletics in East Longmeadow and Southwick and previously served on the town’s Personnel and Policy Committee.
He worked for Verizon and prior to retiring, was a business manager for six years.
“As a business manager, I had to manage and negotiate contracts, so I bring that experience. At one time I represented 1,250 people,” he said.
Residents Kevin Miles and Joseph Townshend also took out nomination papers for selectman, but did not return them.
Richard Freccero and Gregory Thompson are both running unopposed for re-election to the School Committee, while Tyde Richards and Michael Carrabetta face no challengers in their bids to stay on the Planning Board.
Daniel Burack is running for re-election to the Board of Public Works, Teresa Cavanaugh is seeking a new term on the Housing Authority, and Board of Assessors Chair Martin Grudgen rounds out the ballot with a bid for another three years.