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Four submit nomination papers for Driscoll's seat

Date: 10/1/2012

By Chris Maza

EAST LONGMEADOW — A preliminary election will be needed to whittle down the number of candidates vying for the Board of Selectmen seat slated to be vacated by James Driscoll.

Four candidates — former East Longmeadow Selectman Joseph Townshend, former Planning Board and Conservation Commission Chair Peter Punderson, former School Committee member Angela Thorpe and resident Nicholas Chiusano — all returned nomination papers for Driscoll's position, which has a term that expires in April 2013.

Only one candidate, Debra Boronski, returned papers for the seat that was vacated by former Selectman Jack Villamaino, who resigned on Aug. 22 in the midst of a voter registration fraud investigation in which several media outlets reported he was involved.

The preliminary election for Driscoll's seat take place on Nov. 20 with the final election for both positions set for Dec. 18.

"Even though Debra Boronski is running unopposed, the final election is not until Dec. 18 and therefore she will have to wait until December," Town Clerk Thomas Florence said. "The other four candidates will have a primary on Nov. 20 and two winners will face each other in the final election."

Townshend, who served on the Board of Selectmen from 2006 to 2009, is making his second attempt to re-gain a seat. In 2010, he lost a hotly contested election to Driscoll. He said that he decided to run once again because the town was in need of experienced leadership.

"I'm the only candidate that is running for the Board of Selectmen that has experience as a selectmen and the town really needs someone with experience at this point because two seats are being filled," he said. "[Paul] Federici only has one term under his belt. Now is not the time to be training two new selectmen. Now is the time that East Longmeadow really needs someone with experience."

Townshend added that in the wake of the voter registration fraud investigation recently conducted by Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin and District Attorney Mark Mastroianni's office's criminal investigation currently underway, stability in the town's chief executive body is crucial.

"The town has been dealt a black eye right now with some of the things that happened in Town Hall. What we need to do is restore a little bit of credibility to the board," he said.

Townshend stated that he would maintain a policy of complete transparency and would be readily available to all constituents.

"I plan on being very transparent. I think the public needs to not be kept in the dark," he said. "I'm a successful business owner with a business [Midas on Shaker Road] across the street from Town Hall. No one will be more accessible."

Punderson, who did not seek reelection to the Planning Board when his term expired in April, said his focus first and foremost is the people of East Longmeadow.

"I decided in March to run for Mr. Driscoll's seat because I wanted to make a positive and lasting difference in this town," he said. " I look at public service as a privilege. I am not out for political gain. I am out strictly for the town."

Punderson added that he felt in his roles as chair of two town committees that he demonstrated an ability to lead and work together with other board members.

"I think I brought a cohesiveness to the boards I have served," he said. "I think that Paul [Federici], Debbie [Boronski] and I would make a great team that could do some good for the town."

Thorpe most recently ran unsuccessfully for Board of Selectmen and School Committee simultaneously in the Annual Town Election in April. Prior to that, she served on the School Committee from 2004 through 2010 when she lost her bid for reelection to Gregory Thomson and Richard Freccero.

Chuisano has never held public office. He is the proprietor of Nick's Heating and Plumbing, located on Pleasant Street.

Multiple messages left for Thorpe and Chuisano requesting comment were not returned as of press time.