Amherst school board chief not seeking reelection


Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

AMHERST — After having her term extended several months by a change in the town’s charter, Amherst School Committee Chairwoman Anastasia Ordonez has opted against seeking reelection.

Ordonez, who was elected to the committee in March 2016, wrote in an email Wednesday that she will not be on the Nov. 5 ballot for the position, which she describes as both challenging and rewarding.

Ordonez did note several accomplishments for the committee during her tenure, including hiring Michael Morris as superintendent, whom she called a “qualified, dedicated superintendent that has brought stability to our schools.”

Other aspects of the committee’s work in the past three years include improving the annual budget process by better defining budget goals and objectives, working in partnership with school unions to establish an interest-based bargaining process that enhances educator contract negotiations, advocating for a restorative justice program in the regional schools, and leading a community consensus process to support a state application to build new elementary schools.

“I’m also proud of serving in elected office as a Latina woman, one of a small, but growing, number in Massachusetts,” Ordonez said.

Residents have just a few days left to decide whether to seek municipal elective office and determine which races will be competitive when the town election is held Nov. 5.

To get on the ballot, nomination forms with signatures from 50 residents are due to the town clerk’s office by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

So far, a possible race for the five seats on the Amherst School Committee is the only competitive election, with the other four School Committee members, Peter Demling, Alison MacDonald, Eric Nakajima and Kerry Spitzer, having obtained forms, and two newcomers, Benjamin Herrington, of 99 J Southpoint Drive, who ran unsuccessfully in March 2018, and Lauren Mills, of 12 Longmeadow Drive, pulling papers.

The five School Committee slots are among 17 positions on four elected boards that will be on the ballot. Those also include the six trustees for the Jones Library, five members of the Amherst Housing Authority and the individual who serves as the Elector under the Oliver Smith Will.

Amherst’s first off-year fall election is required by the new town charter adopted in March 2018. The 13 members of the Town Council, elected last November and seated in December, will not have to run again until 2021.

All six incumbent library trustees, Lee Edwards, Tamson Ely, Christopher Hoffmann, Alex Lefebvre, Austin Sarat and Robert Pam, have gotten forms to run for reelection, with no newcomers pulling papers.

For the Housing Authority, only incumbent David Williams has obtained papers; and for Elector under the Oliver Smith Will, just incumbent Carol Gray has also done so.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.