| Chris Goudreau
WILBRAHAM – The May 21 Town Election will be highly contested with the majority of the ballot featuring races pitting Republicans against Democrats.
Incumbent Board of Selectmen Chair Robert Boilard, the Republican caucus nominee, will face off against newcomer and Democratic nominee Thomas Kenefick III for a three-year term.
Selectman Robert Russell, during an endorsement speech for Boilard at the March 24 caucus, spoke highly of his fellow selectman, noting that he believes Boilard “speaks and thinks with the perspective of the best interest of the town.”
Boilard, who was the only Republican nominee for selectman, said he is big believer in term limits. If re-elected, he would serve a third term on the board.
“This will be nine years for me on the Select Board, which I kind of don’t agree with, but I see what’s going down the road and I want to be part of that decision making and help guide the town in its best interest moving forward,” he added.
He noted that if he makes mistakes as selectman “make sure that you kick me in my pants.”
Kenefick, an attorney with an office in Springfield, told Reminder Publications after the caucus he decided to run for selectmen because he hopes to give back to the community.
He added he’s lived in the community for a decade and grown to love Wilbraham.
When asked if he would support a new senior center project, Kenefick said seniors make up a large portion of the town’s population.
“I certainly think that their needs have to be considered,” he added. “As one who is becoming more acquainted with it, I certainly would give it a sincerest consideration. I don’t have a real position on it, except for that I’m not opposed to the [new senior center].”
In another race, incumbent Michael Mazzuca is set to face off against newcomer Sean Kennedy for a three-year term on the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School Committee.
School Committee member William Bontempi made a seconding speech at the March 24 caucus on behalf of Mazzuca, noting that his fellow School Committee member “brings a lot to the table.”
Bontempi noted, “He’s got skin in the game. He’s got two kids – Dominic who is going to be in sixth grade next year and his daughter’s going to be in eighth grade – so you’ve got somebody who really cares.”
He added Mazzuca has served as chairman of the budget subcommittee this year, which he considers a large role considering the district’s annual budget struggles.
Mazzuca, who is running for his second term, said the district faces a lot of challenges in the future such as the ongoing decline in enrollment, middle school unification efforts, and a budget shortfall for fiscal year 2017.
Kennedy said after the March 30 Democratic Town Caucus he believes middle school unification is an emotional issue for a lot of people – especially Hampden residents with the likely resultant closure of Thornton W. Burgess Middle School.
“The enrollment is declining,” he added. “It’s something that needs to be done. I’ve talked to different people on the committee trying to find out what other options are there and from what I’m hearing they’ve really looked at everything.”
Kennedy said he thinks the committee should gain more input from middle school students regarding the initiative.
Other races include a five-year seat on the Housing Authority, which pits incumbent and Republican caucus nominee Judy Cezeaux against newcomer and Democratic nominee Karen Rucks and a contest for water commissioner, in which incumbent and Republican nominee Mary McCarthy will face Democratic nominee Christine Goonan for a three-year term.
There are two library trustee positions on the ballot – both for three-year terms. Incumbent James Jurgens is the Republican nominee and the Democratic nominee is J. Patrick Decoteau. Neither party nominated a member for the second position.
The cemetery commissioner race is also contested for a three-year term. Republican nominee George Gordon will run against Democratic nominee Gilles Turcotte.
Incumbent Republican nominee Roger Roberge II will face Donald Flannery for a three-year term as assessor. Flannery was not nominated by either committee. Incumbent Planning Board member and Democratic nominee John McCloskey is unopposed for a five-year term.
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