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Bunnell begins work as new member of Select Board

Date: 5/22/2014

By Chris Maza

WILBRAHAM – On May 19, newly elected Selectman Susan Bunnell joined the board for her first meeting since the Annual Town Election.

Bunnell, who had served for two decades as a member of the Finance Committee and was its chair during the last seven years, defeated Will Caruana, Mary McCarthy and Stephen Bacon for the seat vacated by former Board of Selectman Chair James Thompson, who did not run for re-election after 17 years in the position.

Bunnell received 623 votes in the election that took place on May 17, followed by Caruana’s 507. McCarthy garnered 207 votes, while Bacon received 104.

“I would just like to thank all of the citizens of Wilbraham and the voters of the town who came out on Election Day,” Bunnell said. “I look forward to serving the community over the next three years.”

In addition to the Finance Committee, Bunnell has municipal experience after serving on the Public Safety Study Committee, search committees for a new town administrator and police chief, the Major Projects Committee and the Library Strategic Planning Committee. She has also been involved in the schools as the Finance Committee’s liaison on the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School Committee and the Minnechaug Regional High School Building Committee.

Bunnell was gracious in victory, crediting her opponents with a strong race and voicing excitement in the level of interest in the position.

“I’d also like to thank the other candidates. It was really wonderful to see four candidates for selectman,” she said. “As far back as I have been able to determine from anyone in town, that is the first time we’ve ever had four folks running for Board of Selectman.

Bunnell, however, also voiced some concern in the poor turnout for the election.

“I look forward to better participation in future years – a little chastisement for those who decided to stay home,” she said.

Selectman Robert Russell, who is running for state representative for the 12th Hampden District against incumbent Angelo Puppolo Jr. in the November election, was voted unanimously as the board’s new chair for the next year. Selectman Robert Boilard will serve as vice chair and Bunnell will act as clerk.

Among the other winners in the Annual Town Election were Peter Salerno and Patricia Gordon for School Committee. Gordon, a retired teacher and political newcomer, was the top vote getter in a three-way race for two positions with 873. Salerno, who served previously as the School Committee’s chair, was second with 740. Incumbent D. John McCarthy, a former chair of the committee who has recently been circulating a petition calling for the elimination of the Common Core from the Massachusetts education frameworks, was voted out, receiving 541 votes.

Linda Moriarty and Gloria Russell earned seats on the Board of Library Trustees, while Jason Burkins achieved a three-year seat on the Housing Authority.