Contested races for Select Board, regional school committee up for grabs in Westhampton

Westhampton Town Hall  04-13-2023

Westhampton Town Hall 04-13-2023

By Alexa Lewis

Staff Writer

Published: 05-27-2024 11:29 AM

WESTHAMPTON — At the town election on Saturday, voters will be asked to decide on candidates for two contested seats. Two candidates will compete for a vacant three-year position on the Select Board, and two will compete for a three-year post on the Regional School Committee.

Select Board race

Jonathan Albitz and Jennifer Milikowsky are both running for a spot on the Select Board vacated by Maureen Dempsey, who is not seeking reelection.

Albitz grew up in western Massachusetts, and moved to Westhampton in 2010, where he has raised his two children. He said that his main motivation for running for the Select Board is preserving the rural community feel of Westhampton, and finding ways to keep the town accessible in the midst of rising taxes and property values.

“I’d like to keep Westhampton the kind of town it is — a farming town, a community town. A lot of people have been moving to town and driving property values up, or wanting to change the way things are,” he said. “I don’t want to see the average working class people getting pushed out of town.”

He also hopes to preserve the use of some of the town’s land for hunting, hiking and other outdoor activities like ATV riding.

Milikowsky said she “stumbled serendipitously into town 10 years ago,” and settled quickly into Westhampton life with her husband.

“As we settled into building a life here, it became clear just how special a town Westhampton is and how fortunate we are to have had committed townspeople for generations do the necessary work to preserve Westhampton’s friendly atmosphere and rural character,” she said. “I quickly realized that I wanted to help carry on that work and began attending various town meetings and participating in town events to understand where I could be helpful.”

Milikowsky hopes to address the needs of Westhampton’s aging population and the burdens of rising taxes and lack of affordable housing. She believes that her previous work on the Planning Board and Finance Committee have prepared her to tackle these tasks as a Select Board member.

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She has also worked with Kestrel Land Trust to preserve forest habitats in town, the Zoning Bylaw Review Committee to help develop a permitting process to increase the town’s tax base, and the Master Plan Implementation Committee on the funding proposal for solar arrays on municipal buildings that was recently passed at Town Meeting.

Regional School Committee candidates

Andy Hilnbrand is running against incumbent Scott Johndrow for a Regional School Committee seat. A third candidate, Jose Whiting-Cruz, was also running for this position, but has since dropped out of the race. Due to short notice, he will still appear on the ballot.

Hilnbrand has worked in secondary and post-secondary education for over 30 years, and is parent to a current Hampshire Regional High School student and a recent graduate. He has worked as a classroom teacher, private tutor, and department chair during his career.

“I know a lot of the teachers, and I’m familiar with the environment they’re working in,” he told the Gazette.

His candidacy has been endorsed by the Hampshire Regional Education Association, which states that “he has a deep understanding of the complex systems that educators work in, including the economics around funding robust programs that directly affect student outcomes and experience.”

“I have the compassion and critical thinking skills to listen to the issues before the Committee and apply my own experience and knowledge in crafting my input and influence that I believe would best serve the [Hampshire Regional] community,” he said in his endorsement statement.

Johndrow has been a member of the Hampshire Regional School Committee for over five years, and has served on a special committee to improve the structure of special education, as well as the COVID Task Force at the elementary school.

“I have contributed to the committee by sitting on numerous search committees, participating in multiple negotiations, and maintaining an impeccable attendance record for scheduled meetings,” he said.

In addition, Johndrow has served on several town committees including the Select Board, Safety Complex Committee, MVP Committee, and Capital Improvement Committee.

“At this time, our community requires and deserves the continuity of an experienced school committee member. My dedication to our school, our teachers, and our community is evidenced by my track record,” said Johndrow. “Please rely on my experience, my dedication, and my tenacity to help us navigate through the next three years.”

Write-in candidates

This year’s election will also feature two write-in candidates. Matthew Clark is a write-in candidate for a three-year spot on the Elementary School Committee, and Pat Coffey is a write-in candidate for a three-year spot on the Planning Board.

Both candidates are uncontested in their write-in campaigns, and are both running for blank ballot slots. To vote for a write-in candidate, voters must provide both the candidate’s correctly spelled name and address. Cards providing this information will be available when voters enter the polls. The two write-in candidates may also provide stickers with their names and addresses, which can be placed on the ballot in the write-in slots.

Other positions

All other candidates in this election are running uncontested, and will appear on the ballot. Walter Morrey is running for reelection to a three-year Board of Assessors seat; Tad Weiss is running for re-election to a three-year Finance Committee position; Maureen Dempsey is running for another open three-year Finance Committee position; incumbent Angela Griefen and Alison Thirkield are running for two three-year Library Trustee positions; Thomas A. Jenkins is running for reelection to a one-year Tree Warden position; Benjamin A. Warren is running for reelection to a one-year Moderator position; and Robert Miller is running for reelection to a three-year Center District Constable position.

Polling information

The annual town election will take place on Saturday, June 1 at Town Hall. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. until noon. Voters may also participate in in-person early voting on Wednesday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the Town Clerk’s office at Town Hall. The final day to register to vote in this election was May 21.

Alexa Lewis can be reached at or on Instagram and Twitter at @alexamlewis.