EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass (WGGB)–
Whoever replaces East Longmeadow Selectman Jim Driscoll will only have a guaranteed four month term. He’s up for relection in April. Joe Townshend, Peter Punderson, Angela Thorpe, and Nick Chiusano are all on Tuesday’s ballot. The top two vote getters will advance to a final election next month and take office in January. Each election will cost the town between $5,000 and 6,000 each time.
“It is kind of troublesome that we’re spending this amount of money for this election and going to have to spend more in the next but we do need representation,” voter Greg Garnes said. “I suppose one possibly washes the other.”
“If we do need to try to find some extra money i have had preliminary discussions with the appropriations committee to talk about a possible transfer just cover these costs,” Town Clerk Tom Florence said.
Florence says if they didn’t have the special elections, the town would be left with just one selectman. Former Selectboard Chair Jack Villamaino resigned last summer, a few months before investigators charged him with coordinating an elaborate voter fraud case.
“It is our charter. We have to feel the open seat. We have to run town business and you just can’t do it with one selectman,” Florence said.
With Jack Villamaino’s voter fraud scandal still ongoing, those in and outside the town hall say it’s time for a fresh start.
“I think again to put what happened in the summer behind us and to start not over, but start anew,” Florence said.
“I think that that was a terrible mark on East Longmeadow to have this scandal emerge and I think this election tomorrow will certainly help put that behind us and and we can move on from there,” Garnes said.
Jack Villamaino’s seat goes about a year longer than Driscoll’s was sloted for. There’s two different candidates for his seat, and because there is only two no preliminary election is necessary.