Incumbents in Amherst retain seats on Select Board, Jones Library trustees

  • DOUGLAS SLAUGHTER gazette file photo

  • Incumbent Austin Sarat, pictured at a public forum earlier this month, won re-election Tuesday as a trustee for the Jones Library. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • Incumbent Tamson Ely, pictured at a public forum earlier this month, won re-election Tuesday as a trustee for the Jones Library. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Friday, March 30, 2018

AMHERST — Incumbents for the Select Board and Jones Library trustees easily retained their positions at Tuesday’s town election.

Select Board candidate Douglas Slaughter won re-election with 2,437 votes, besting Ivan Babian and Robert Greeney. Greeney finished second with 1,554 votes, and Babian trailed with 465, based on unofficial results provided by the town clerk.

Meanwhile, Austin Sarat and Tamson Ely were re-elected as Jones Library trustees, fending off challenges from Sigurd Nilsen and Kitty Axelson-Berry.

Sarat earned 2,733 votes, followed by Ely with 2,459. Axelson-Berry and Nilsen trailed with 1,820 and 1,420 votes, based on unofficial results from the town clerk.

“I appreciate the trust the voters of Amherst have expressed in me,” Slaughter said. “I am looking forward to continuing to serve the residents as we all work together toward the best Amherst can be.”

Slaughter’s term on the Select Board may be brief with the change to the town charter also adopted by voters on Tuesday.

Prior to the election, Slaughter said his understanding of the new charter is that, as an employee for the Amherst, Amherst-Pelham and Pelham public schools, he will be prevented from serving on the new council.

Still, Slaughter was a supporter of the charter, explaining that after three years on the Select Board he saw the need for Amherst to have a more professional government.

Even though he lost for the second year in a row, Greeney said it was important to run.

“One of the main reasons I ran was to give voice and choice to those viewpoints and those voters not currently represented by the Select Board and other boards appointed by the Select Board and the town manager,” Greeney said. “I hope my participation contributed to a richer dialogue and had some small beneficial effect on our community.”

Babian could not be reached for comment.

In the Jones Library race, Sarat and Ely both support a $35.6 million project to expand and renovate the main branch, while Nilsen and Axelson-Berry opposed it.

“Congratulations to Sig and Kitty, they ran a spirited campaign that gave voters of Amherst a choice about the future of the library,” Sarat said. “The voters of Amherst have endorsed a vision of the library’s future which will keep the library a library for all the citizens of Amherst. I look forward to continue to make that vision a reality.”

“I’m relieved it’s over, and happy,” said Ely. “I look forward to continue work on the board and the important issues facing the library.”

These include the building project, which is on the state waitlist for funding, retaining staffing, working with Library Director Sharon Sharry and the Friends of the Jones Library on programming and preserving the Jones Inc. endowment.

Nilsen said he would not comment on the results, but that the town election, which included passage of a new town charter that eliminates Town Meeting, meant it was a sad day for Amherst.

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