Gramarossa, O’Connor elected to Belchertown Select Board; Aponte ousted

  • Belchertown Town Hall

Staff Writer
Thursday, May 24, 2018

BELCHERTOWN — Longtime Select Board member Ronald Aponte lost his seat to challenger Gail Gramarossa in a close race for two seats on the Select Board during Monday’s town election.

Gramarossa received 603 votes, while incumbent Nicholas O’Connor kept his seat with 596 votes. Aponte received 587 votes and challenger Amy Clegg collected 477 votes.

Describing herself as a “liberal” and “progressive” candidate, Gramarossa said she hopes she can be a voice for underrepresented sects of the Belchertown community, and make politics more open and accessible.

“People have been mobilized and galvanized by what is going on at the state level and what is going on at the national level,” Gramarossa said. “Those people newer to town politics are getting engaged.”

With 18 years on the Board of Health, Gramarossa said she takes a holistic approach to public health, taking into account a person’s economic, social, physical, and mental well-being.

As a Select Board member, she hopes to start conversations about senior care, how to combat the opioid addiction epidemic, demographic changes in the community and the rising cost of living.

“I was actually surprised and humbled to be the top vote-getter knowing there were incumbents running,” Gramarossa said. “I have a lot of learning to do but I’m hoping the folks currently on the Select Board will help with that as I learn more in the role.”

O’Connor said he is excited to work with Gramarossa, whose ideas will bring a fresh perspective to the board. He wants to continue Aponte’s legacy of economic development with a focus on the former Belchertown State School site, while working closely with the Belchertown Economic Development Industrial Corp., a quasi-governmental agency.

“It is bittersweet because Mr. Aponte was my mentor on the board,” O’Connor said. “He really took me under his wing and showed me the ropes.”

“I’m proud of all my accomplishments I’ve had in my relatively long run as a selectman,” Aponte said, citing the financial stability of the town and a strong bond rating as tributes to his success.

Of the 10,364 registered voters, 1,303, or 12.6 percent, voted.

Clegg said she was happy to see a healthy turnout of voters asking questions, proving their engagement with the issues.

Other races

Edward Boscher won the one-year Select Board seat left vacant by the resignation of former member William Barnett with 454 votes, beating challengers James Wilbur Quirk by 34 votes, and surpassing Brian Gibbons by 175 votes.

Ruby Bansal and Josh Wallace won the two three-year seats on the School Committee, besting challenger Lamiko Magee. Diane Brown won the one-year term on School Committee unopposed.

Running unopposed, three incumbents won their positions back: Board of Assessors chairman Donald Minney won another three-year term; Colleen Toothill-Berte won another three-year term as Town Clerk; and Louis Faassen won a five-year term on the Planning Board.

Sarah Robertson can be reached at srobertson@gazettenet.com.