Lacy, Farrell vie for Select Board seat in Shutesbury


  • Rita Farrell COURTESY PHOTO


Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

SHUTESBURY — Two residents with extensive involvement in public service to Shutesbury are competing for a three-year term on the Select Board in the only contested election on the June 27 ballot.

Jeffrey R. Lacy of Baker Road and Rita Farrell of Briggs Road are running for the seat currently held by Elaine Puleo, who is not running for reelection after being elected to a two-year position in 2018. She also served on the panel from 2009 to 2015. Voting will held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside Town Hall, adjacent to the annual Town Meeting that starts at 9 a.m.

Farrell, co-chairwoman of the Finance Committee, has also served on the School, Recreation and Community Preservation committees. She has a platform of balancing fiscal responsibility with investments in public services, and advocacy for more financial support from the state and federal governments.

“We are facing a number of challenges in Shutesbury ranging from changing demographics to a fiscal environment that could well place a serious burden on our ability to continue the level of services we have today,” Farrell wrote in a statement.

Farrell is encouraging collaboration among town boards and officials, promoting community engagement through communication and participation, and embracing diversity and culture.

“I believe it is imperative that those who serve on town boards set their personal views aside when performing their duties,” Farrell wrote about her approach to governing. “Elected town officials should always serve the community and never serve their own agenda.”

Farrell, who came to town in 1981, retired from her position as a senior staff member for the Massachusetts Housing Partnership and is still a consultant for the Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust.

Lacy, a member of the Planning Board for the past 25 years and the Zoning Board of Appeals for the last 10, said he supports transparency in all town business and processes for any town endeavor, and describes himself as socially liberal and fiscally frugal.

“I’m emphasizing an affordable Shutesbury for people — that will be my emphasis above all others,” Lacy said.

Lacy said he worries the town has one of the highest tax rates and is one of the costliest communities in the region. He has focused on the assessment method for the Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools, which he argues is flawed because it doesn’t properly take into account the ability to pay for Shutesbury, the least wealthy of the four towns. As he looks at how the town conducts business and for ways to reduce costs, Lacy said he is also interested in acquiring more recreational land for activities and finding a way to build community support for a new library.

Lacy, who came to town in 1989, retired from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation but continues to be a land consultant for area communities, as well as running a horse farm and operating a trucking business.

Newcomers on the ballot include Grace Bannasch of Sandhill Road, for a three-year term as town clerk; Melanie DeSilva of Wendell Road, for a three-year term as library trustee; and Garrett Simonsen of West Pelham Road, for a three-year term on the Board of Health.