9 vying for 4 Orange Selectboard seats

  • SCHWANZ

  • LUSSIER

  • DAVIS

  • PEIRCE

  • SHERIDAN

  • AVILA

  • WILLARD

  • SMITH

Staff Writer
Published: 5/31/2020 8:30:28 AM
Modified: 5/31/2020 8:30:25 AM

ORANGE — Good things come to those who wait.

The Orange annual town election is slated for Monday, June 1, at Ralph C. Mahar Regional School’s gymnasium. Originally scheduled for March, it was postponed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as allowed by special state legislation. Polls will be open from noon to 7 p.m.

Three of the 17 races on the ballot are contested. The one with the most candidates is for a three-year seat on the Selectboard. Jane Peirce is running for reelection and faces competition from John B. Avila, donna F. duBour (the legal spelling of the woman’s name), Richard P. Sheridan and Thomas J. Smith. Voters can vote for up to two candidates.

A sample ballot can be viewed at bit.ly/2yGYy0Q.

Two three-year seats: Jane M. Peirce

Peirce grew up in Orange and attended Orange Elementary School and Ralph C. Mahar Regional School before going off to Hampshire College, where she studied plant ecology. Just after college graduation, she served on the Orange Conservation Commission and has since served on the Finance Committee and Capital Improvement Planning Committee. In addition to the Selectboard, she sits on the Board of Health.

She said she first decided to run for Selectboard because of what she perceived as poor management and a lack of leadership in town.

“We have made great strides toward the big goals that we had, (such as) straightening out the schools and getting the (town) departments the type of support … they need,” she said. “I’m not done yet. There’s work to be done. I just starting laying the foundation and I would like time to help to build on that work to stabilize it.”

Peirce, 68, has also earned a master’s degree in resource management from Antioch University New England in Keene, N.H. In 2017, she retired from the state Department of Environmental Protection as deputy director of municipal service overseeing federal Clean Water Act funding. She is a part-time contractor working in the department’s drinking water program.

John B. Avila

Attempts to contact Avila were unsuccessful; however, at an informational forum during an unsuccessful write-in campaign for a Selectboard seat in 2017, he mentioned he has worked as a school bus driver and used to serve in the U.S. Army as a military police officer, achieving the rank of lieutenant. He once told the Greenfield Recorder he used to own a diner in Athol.

donna F. duBour

The Orange native legally changed the first letters of her first and last names to lowercase when she owned an interior design company that specialized in dressing store windows.

The 1964 graduate of Mahar went off to college and then traveled the world working for Raytheon for 53 years, living in such places as China, Hawaii and Alaska. She now works for Standard Chair of Gardner.

DuBour, 73, said she has never held municipal office but has always wanted to try. She said it is good to get some new blood.

“I think that change is healthy,” she said.

DuBour said she would like to advocate for the issues of senior citizens.

Richard P. Sheridan

Attempts to contact Sheridan were unsuccessful; however, he has lived in Orange for about 50 years and has served in municipal government roles such as Selectboard and Planning Board. He has also been a member of the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation, though it was unclear if he still is.

Sheridan has been elected to four terms on the Selectboard, though he resigned from the board in 2018. He later said his health was the main factor in his decision. He had served three consecutive terms when he chose not to run for reelection in 2013. He was then elected in 2016.

The Greenfield Recorder has previously reported that Sheridan has worked as a mechanic, a contractor and a Real Estate agent. He also once owned a used car lot and two gas stations and clashed with the town over what he felt were license restrictions beyond the town’s regulatory scope.

Thomas J. Smith

Smith grew up in Wayland and moved to Orange 18 years ago when he “needed a change.”

He was elected to the Selectboard in March 2018 though he resigned this past January following his sister’s death. But the 55-year-old said he has been itching to get back to serving his adopted home.

“I really miss being on the board and that’s really why I chose to go back. It’s something that I really, really miss,” he said. “I’m very big on being clear, being honest and really working hard for the citizens of Orange.”

Smith said he is an office manager at Witty’s Funeral Home and drives a school bus for Swift River Bus Co. He was previously a contract manager for First Student, Inc. bus company for 15 years.

“I just relate to regular, down-to-earth people, and that kind of sums it up,” Smith said.

He is also on the Orange Scholarship Foundation and belongs to the Orange Historical Society.

One two-year seat: Patrick Clark Davis

Davis is throwing his hat in the ring, having served on the Orange Elementary School Committee and the town’s finance committee.

Davis, 41, grew up in Turners Falls and started off working for his family’s business. He eventually started Montague WebWorks before selling it in 2009. He said he now works as an independent contractor in marketing and sales consultancy.

“I want to run for a very pure and simple reason, which is the town is going to enter into one of the most difficult fiscal situations it’s been in in that past 20 years,” he said, adding that he also wants to fight to make sure the state sends back to rural towns like Orange the money they deserve.

He also said 80 to 90 percent of the town’s budget is consumed by school expenses, and Orange’s transportation and special education costs are some of the highest around.

Davis said he attended The Bement School in Deerfield and Clark University in Worcrester. He said he moved to Orange 13 years ago due to its good school district, full-time fire department (one of three in Franklin County) and the town’s ability to blend a rural feel with desirable conveniences.

Patricia A. Lussier

Lussier grew up in Petersham and graduated from Mahar. She settled in Orange about four years ago, after having lived on the seacoast of New Hampshire and on Cape Cod before returning to the North Quabbin region by moving to New Salem.

Lussier, 70, said she is saddened to see vacant storefronts on Main Street and she wants to help address the problem.

“I see a lot of need in the town, a lot of challenges, and I would like to be part of the solution,” she said. “I see a lack of any kind of commericial tax base in town.”

Lussier said she has a very strong financial background, having once owned a small business. She said her experience would be an asset to the Selectboard.

“I’m very familiar with finances and with management and I think that I am a problem-solver and I am tenacious,” she said. “When I set my mind to something, I don’t stop until I’ve accomplished it.”

Lussier said she has also worked in the financial office of a skilled nursing facility and part-time as a volunteer coordinator at Athol Hospital.

One one-year seat: Alexandre A. Schwanz

Schwanz ran a successful campaign for a school committee seat in 2018 due to his passion for education. However, he was soon shocked to learn how Orange’s socio-economic situation affects its schools and its budget.

“Without prospering the town of Orange, we will never be able to educate the children of Orange in a quality, decent way, because the resources are not there,” he said.

The 24-year-old said he works in the financial service sector and holds investment licenses.

Schwanz majored in political science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he was a student of Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, who is a lecturer there.

Schwanz said he was born in Brazil to a career military father and spent some formative years in Kansas, where he attended college before transferring to UMass.

George C.F. Willard

Attempts to contact Willard were unsuccessful; however, the Recorder has previously reported that he grew up in Orange and is a retired Marine.

He has experience on the Orange Cemetery Commission, most recently defeating John D. Waters Sr. by a 157-to-137 vote for a three-year seat in 2019.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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