CHESTER — This year’s town election will feature a contested race for a three-year selectman term, as Craig Gauthier again aims to take the seat occupied by incumbent Brian Forgue. Both candidates spoke with Reminder Publishing about their backgrounds, goals on the board and approach to fiscal responsibility.

Craig Gauthier

A former supervisor for the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority in Springfield, Gauthier retired in 2012 and moved to Chester in 2014, buying a home on Emery Street. He is an “avid hunter” and a fisherman, he said. He ran for former Selectman Jason Forgue’s seat in 2023, losing to Jason’s son Brian Forgue.

Gauthier emphasized that he was running for the people of Chester, not to advance an agenda.

“I’m for the people in town, someone that’s going to hear and listen to the people,” Gauthier said. “It’s not about me. It’s about them.”

His top issue, he said, is attracting businesses into town, which he said will bring in revenue without raising property taxes, which he is opposed to. Asked how he’ll help draw businesses in, Gauthier said it’s about whether the properties exist in town and whether something can be done with them. He said the town needs to host a meeting with the townspeople to decide what to do with these properties.

“Whatever it may be, something needs to be done,” he said.

He also said he wanted the town departments to work together and be cautious with their spending.

Gauthier said he’s been getting a positive reaction to his campaign so far, which has consisted of knocking on doors and passing out flyers. Last year, he said he only had three weeks to campaign, but feels he did well for as little time as he had. He plans to put in more footwork as the election approaches.

Brian Forgue

Forgue has lived in Chester for 16 years, graduating from Gateway Regional High School in 2021. He was a student representative to the Gateway Regional School Committee for two years and was elected to the committee in July 2023. That same month, he was elected to the Chester Board of Selectmen. He is a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Forgue said he wants what’s best for Chester long-term. That means balancing town departments’ ambitions with keeping the budget affordable, especially for seniors, he said. That also means making sure young people don’t feel the town lacks opportunity and helping Gateway schools “reach new heights.”

”I love Chester. I love its history. I want to do everything to preserve it and I want to structure all of the growth into making sure that the next couple of years, meaning the next 10 to 20, look bright, look fruitful,” he said.

Forgue said he was proud to support “regionalization” and hopes that talks to combine the Chester and Blandford fire departments can continue. He was also proud of appointing a new Council on Aging director.

Asked what his final pitch to voters would be, he said Chester’s future was “powerful” and built on the work of laborers and community activists.

“We can continue that work getting Chester further along down the twenty-first century,” he said. “We can continue to be the best possible place to grow up, start a family and live in the commonwealth.”

How to vote

Chester’s town election will be Saturday, May 4, at Town Hall, 15 Middlefield Rd. Polling hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Besides the Board of Selectmen candidates, incumbent Linda Koskey and newcomer Chelsea Girton are running uncontested for two three-year library trustee positions. Incumbent Jeanna Briggs is running unopposed for a three-year School Committee term, Duane Pease is unopposed for her three-year position on Board of Health, and Deryck Savoy is the only nominee for his own three-year post on the Electric Light Commission.

No one is nominated for Donald Bean’s three-year and Nick Chiusano’s two-year water commissioner positions. Also blank is the moderator position currently occupied by Barbara Pease Huntoon. These positions are open for write-in candidates.

The Board of Selectmen chose to opt out of in-person early voting, said Town Clerk Terry Donovan. Absentee ballot application forms are available at the clerk’s office on the third floor of Town Hall, and at sec.state.ma.us/divisions/elections/voting-information/absentee-voting.htm.

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