Holly Hamer is the first non-incumbent to announce she’ll be seeking the Great Barrington selectboard seat opening in May. Hamer is a longtime volunteer for the Friends of Great Barrington Libraries (currently the group’s treasurer) and former co-owner of the Mill River Studio.
Hamer picked up nomination papers from town hall on Friday, shortly following chair Sean Stanton’s announcement that he will not be seeking re-election, as reported by the Berkshire Eagle Wednesday.
Hamer said her biggest concerns are the area’s declining population and accessibility of affordable housing.
“Population decline has a serious impact on the town in terms of tax revenue and how money is spent for the libraries, school, and government,” Hamer said. “As revenue dwindles, taxes have to go up. And our residents, many of whom are retired and on fixed incomes, can’t afford more taxes.”
Hamer also said that the town should be careful when allowing industrial and business interests (she named the airport, solar arrays and marijuana growing facilities) to expand into low-density residential areas.
“These open spaces are what often attract people here in the first place and are essential for the tourism and character of the town,” Hamer said.
Hamer ran for the Planning Board last year but lost. She’s lived in or around Great Barrington for 40 years, back to when she was a volunteer for the Vista program. Her parents had a cottage on Lake Garfield in Monterey that she visited frequently as a child, she said.
“As a businessperson, I learned to streamline things to get work done,” Hamer said. “And also how to read people to understand what it is they really want… And in ten years of work volunteering for the libraries, I learned how things work, how priorities are created and the people who are instrumental in shaping town policy.”
Hamer said she hopes to run in cooperation with Bill Cooke, the incumbent select board member who told the Eagle he plans to run for re-election. If elected she would be the only women of the five select board members.
“I encourage more women to run,” Hamer said. “I encourage everyone to run, but more women would be good.”She added later that the town should work towards closer gender equity in its elected offices.
Hamer needs 28 signatures to be nominated as a candidate. According to town clerk Marie Y. Ryan, Hamer is the first person to gather papers for a nomination. The election for all the town’s open offices (of which there are 16) will be on May 15.
For the full story, pick up an issue of this week’s Berkshire Record