Webinars look to spark interest in elected office

  • Amherst Town Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Monday, April 12, 2021

AMHERST — Nomination papers to run for elective office aren’t available in Amherst yet, but the League of Women Voters of Amherst is already working to ensure there will be interested candidates, including people from often underrepresented groups.

With the racial and ethnic diversity on town boards and committees limited, the League is organizing two webinars this month, the first on Thursday evening and the second on April 15, under the title “Running for Elective Office in Amherst — 2021.”

“We want to reach people and have diversity in our town government,” said Joan Rabin, a League member coordinating the events.

The webinars come in advance of the November election that will feature all 13 seats on the Town Council, including three at-large seats and 10 for the precincts; five seats on the Amherst School Committee; and six positions for Jones Library trustees.

Rabin said because the League doesn’t yet know what the slate of candidates will look like or how much interest there will be in running, with the new town charter only 3 years old, members invited candidates, both successful and unsuccessful, to discuss their campaigns. From these conversations, the League then developed a guidebook that will be on its website and which provides information about running for office.

The first webinar, “Nomination Procedures and Campaign Issues” will feature Town Clerk Susan Audette alongside panelists Sarah Barr, a former campaign manager, and former candidates Eric Nakajima and Jim Pistrang.

People interested in running for office for the first time could be intimidated, Rabin said.

“It was our impression that a number of newbies to campaigning were a bit shellshocked by the experience,” Rabin said. “And a number of the incumbents confirmed that having been there before did make a difference.”

Also, before the new charter was adopted, residents could run to become a member of representative Town Meeting as an introduction to campaigning.

The second webinar, “Campaign Finance Regulations and Reporting,” will have Jason Tait, spokesman for the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, with former treasurers MaryAnn Grim and Bonnie MacCracken.

Rabin said the League heard from people who needed help to find a campaign treasurer and understand what the job is and who can handle it.

“We hope this will drum up some interest to serve in that role,” Rabin said.

Go to https://tinyurl.com/RFOPart1 and https://tinyurl.com/RFOPart2 to register.