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Greenfield Recorder – Incumbent faces challenge to retain Selectboard seat in Buckland

Buckland Town Hall.

Buckland Town Hall.
Staff file photo/Paul Franz

BUCKLAND — When voters head to the polls Tuesday, they’ll face just one contested race as incumbent Selectboard Chairman Clinton “Clint” Phillips faces a challenge from incumbent Maria-Elena Mariel Olcoz present on the Planning Board, for a three-year term Selectboard.

Polls will be open from 10am to 8pm at City Hall, 17 State St.

Clinton Phillips

Phillips, 43, is running for a second term on the Selectboard with the goal of continuing the work the board has done over the past several years.

“I want to keep moving forward, improving the roads, improving the staff and doing whatever I can for the city,” said Phillips, a lieutenant with the Hatfield Police Department. “I have enjoyed the last three years. They’ve had their challenges, but I feel like I want to continue to see what’s best for the city.”

A resident for 40 years, Phillips also previously served as a volunteer firefighter with the Shelburne Falls Fire District, worked as a police officer with the Shelburne Police Department and was active in the Buckland-Shelburne Youth Baseball League.

Since joining the board, Buckland has seen his highway department revamped and the Police Department merged with Shelburne. The city has also managed numerous infrastructure improvement projects.

Phillips said all of those successes stem from the Selectboard’s work with other town committees and departments, which has helped manage a tight budget year after year.

“We have a great Finance Committee — they’re really good at pinching money for the city — and the city manager is a rock star at finding us grants,” Phillips said. “The current board that we have now, it seems like we’re really on the same page, and I think in the last year, when Joan Livingston started, there was only one thing that the three of us didn’t agree on, and that was just last week with the sale of the Police Station.

“I don’t see my agenda changing,” Phillips added. “I want to continue to do what I feel is best for the town of Buckland.”

Maria-Elena Mariel Olcoz

Olcoz, 39, is a current member of the Planning Board and decided to run for the Selectboard on the platform of listening to residents’ feedback and concerns.

“I think civil servants should be obedient first, and we are just appendages of the people of the city,” she said. “I’m doing this because I love this community, I love all my neighbors and I want their voices to be heard properly.”

With a background in political science and humanities, she moved to the city just over two years ago and immediately got involved, volunteering to work with the Flower Bridge, pollinator committees and the Planning Board.

With housing as one of her top priorities, she pointed to the recently passed short-term rental ordinance, which requires short-term rentals like Airbnbs to be registered with the city, as an example of the work she has done .

“I bring a lot of experience with me,” Olcoz said, adding that through her deep involvement in the community, she understands the challenges facing Buckland, such as the lack of affordable housing and climate change.

Olcoz said the best way to understand these issues is to be “five steps ahead,” which will save the community money in the long run.

“I feel like I can do this and represent the voices of the people of Buckland, which ultimately is what the Selectboard is supposed to do,” Olcoz said. “There is so much work to be done and I have the energy to do it and I have the experience.”

The other uncontested races on the ballot are as follows:

■Assessment Board, three-year term — Elizabeth Anne Cerone, incumbent.

■Health Council, three-year term — Yvette Roma Estevez.

■ Library Trustee, three-year term — Catherine Bernardette Russillo, incumbent.

■Finance Committee, three-year term — Bruce D. Lessels, incumbent.

■Moderator, three-year term — Phoebe Walker, incumbent.

Chris Larabee can be reached at [email protected].