By Chris Maza
WILBRAHAM – Susan Bunnell, chair of the Finance Committee, is hoping to join fellow former members Robert Russell and Robert Boilard in a new role as Selectman.
Bunnell is part of a crowded field for a three-year term on the Board of Selectmen being vacated by Chair James Thompson, joining Mary McCarthy, Stephen Bacon and William Caruana on the May 17 ballot.
“At the time that I submitted my [nomination] papers, I had a concern that we were losing the institutional memory that Jim Thompson has,” she said. “It didn’t appear that there was a depth of experience [among the candidates].”
Bunnell said that her experience as a member of the Finance Committee has given her a window into the town’s operations that extends beyond funding levels.
“I’ve been able to develop a close working relationship with the various selectmen over the years,” she said. “I think what [the Finance Committee experience] does is helps you familiarize yourself in the differences between corporate finance and municipal finance – and there are some important differences – and it gives you the opportunity to learn how the different departments work.”
Bunnell said she looked forward to having the opportunity to work with Boilard and Russell, explaining she worked with both of them for many years.
“I have established a very good working relationship with both of them,” she said. “My work with Bob Boilard goes back 10 years and with Bob Russell, it’s close to 20.”
Bunnell also pointed to her time as a member of the Capital Planning Committee, the School Building Committee that oversaw the construction of the new Minnechaug Regional High School and previous public safety committees as other vehicles through which she has gained experience and knowledge of the town’s operations.
With the knowledge of these experiences, Bunnell said she was confident in the direction in which the town is headed.
“I don’t have a platform so to speak, but rather I think I’m bringing broad, deep exposure and experience to a position where I think I can become a resource,” she said. “I don’t feel that I have an agenda and I believe the town is in very good shape. I just think the time has come for me to move up to the next level in my service to the town.”
She identified the proposed police station and senior center projects as two of the most prominent opportunities in front of the town in the near future.
“The police station and the senior center are obviously projects that have gotten a lot of press and they are very important,” she said. “The police station especially needs attention as the oldest municipal building in town.”
Bunnell also said she hoped the photovoltaic array proposed for the town’s closed landfill would be completed within the next year and expressed excitement in the prospect of the town having the opportunity to become a broadband provider.