HUNTINGTON — This year, there will be one contested race on the town election ballot, as former Selectboard member John McVeigh will be competing against plumber Anthony Loughran for the three-year seat being vacated by current board Chair Edward Renauld.

Anthony Loughran

Loughran has never participated in town politics. But when he learned about an opening on the Selectboard, he decided to give it a shot.

“Might as well try it out and see how I could do,” he said. “Something I’ve always been interested in. Just never had any experience in.”

Loughran originally worked for Notch Mechanical Contractors in Holyoke, where he was trained by a Huntington resident, he said. He decided to move to town in May 2011 and has lived there ever since. He said he now runs a plumbing business, is the plumbing inspector of two towns, and teaches plumbing at Springfield Technical Community College.

His “small, grassroots campaign” has consisted of meeting with neighbors, and talking with town residents.

“I’d just rather walk up to you and tell you what I’m thinking and let everyone make their own decision,” he said.

Loughran said he has experience he can apply to the Selectboard, such as balancing a budget, and dealing with issues and a variety of different people and age groups.

Loughran said there’s been a “revolving door of selectmen” the past couple years. By contrast, he’s hoping to “stay the course” and “change the town,” he said.

Asked how he wants to change the town, Loughran said he wanted to bring the community together through activities like cleanups. He said there are sections of road in town where people can meet, get to know each other, and pick up trash.

He said there are no previous Selectboard decisions he would’ve voted differently on.

“Whatever’s come before me has come before me,” he said. “Going forward, I will do the best I can to make the right decisions.”

John McVeigh

McVeigh is a former Selectboard member. He was elected in 2013 and 2016, but resigned in 2017 to focus on his firefighting career. He’s running again, he said, because no one is investing in the town, which has made it “horrible” and “depressing looking.”

“If you’re not down in Boston advocating for the town, they don’t know you exist, basically,” he said. “That’s something I’m more than willing to do again.”

Specifically, he’s hoping to bring in education funding — he noted the decreasing enrollment at the Gateway Regional School District — as well as Chapter 90 state aid, and community development grants. Huntington, he said, needs places for kids, like playgrounds and skate parks.

“We need to start reinvesting our tax dollars into our community and making it more appealing for people to move into town,” he said.

He also said people question the amount of money the town gives to the Hilltown Community Ambulance Association. McVeigh himself opposed a Proposition 2½ override to increase funding at the 2022 Town Meeting, due to what he thought was substandard service under then-director Angela Mulkerin.

However, he wrote a letter praising the new director, Bailey Jones, which was published in The Pennysaver in April 2023. Recently, he emphasized the importance of keeping the HCAA in town.

“Trying to keep Hilltown here is the biggest thing,” he said. “We can’t let them go.”

Asked why people should vote for him, McVeigh said he’s been in town this entire life, and has seen what it used to be and what direction it’s heading in. He said he wants to bring the community back to where it was, before it was “let go by the wayside.”

How to vote

Voting takes place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at Stanton Hall, 26 Russell Rd. In-person early voting is scheduled 6-8 p.m. Monday, May 6, at the town clerk’s office. Voters can download an absentee ballot application from the town website.

Besides the Selectboard race, interim Town Clerk Michelle Fieldstad-Booth will be running unopposed for a three-year term in the position. There will also be a ballot question on whether to make the clerk an appointed position rather than an elected one.

All other candidates are running unopposed, as well: George Peterson for three years on the Board of Health, and one year as moderator; Christine Stochlinski for three years on the Board of Assessors; H. Daniel Oliveira for three years on the Water and Sewer Commission; Lisa D. Goding for three years on the Gateway Regional School Committee; Karen Wittshirk for three years as an Alphonso P. Pettis Fund trustee, and three years as a Huntington Library trustee; and Charles Dazelle for three years as constable.

No candidates have been nominated for an available two-year term on the School Committee, a one-year tree warden term, a two-year constable term, nor a three-year Whiting Street Fund trustee term.