Pat Ononibaku, Chair
Nov. 3, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ellisha Walker, Jennifer Taub and Dorothy Pam (incumbent) to serve on Town Council; Jennifer Page and Ben Herrington (incumbent) elected to School Committee.
The Progressive Coalition of Amherst (PCA) extends congratulations to all of those who were chosen on Monday to serve our Town, and is hopeful that Amherst is on its way to becoming the strong, diverse and responsive democracy that many people desire.
Amherst’s incoming Town Council will have 12 women and one man, and will provide broader representation than in the past, in terms of individual perspectives and racial composition. Full election results can be seen here.
“We are gratified to see that PCA’s efforts over the last several months, to identify, recruit and support progressive and diverse candidates had a significant impact,” said PCA Chair Pat Ononibaku. “We are also very grateful for the groundswell of public support for our candidates, and our goal of building a more inclusive, vibrant local democracy in Amherst.”
The very top vote-getter in the Town Council race was Ellisha Walker, a newcomer with 3,164 votes, an impressive 64% of all voters in this election. A Black woman and mother of three, Walker is the co-chair of the Community Safety Working Group, (CSWG) which has recommended alternative public safety services and reforms to Amherst Police Department oversight.
“Ellisha’s popularity with voters indicates to us that our community is eager to make the major changes to emergency response services which the CSWG has recommended,” Ononibaku said.
PCA believes that Town Council newcomers Jennifer Taub (District 3) and Anika Lopes (District 4) will broaden the Council’s perspective and provide new insights, as it grapples with critical issues such as improving public buildings and programs, creating appropriate zoning and affordable housing, and establishing a reparations program for Amherst’s Black heritage residents.
PCA is also pleased that incumbent Dorothy Pam (District 3) will return to the Town Council for a second term, and is confident that she will provide fair, thoughtful and common sense leadership going forward. Pamela Rooney (District 4), who declined endorsement by PCA to run as an independent candidate, will help the new Council make informed decisions regarding zoning and development.
PCA has no doubt that Town Council candidates Vira Douangmany Cage and Vincent O’Connor will continue their advocacy as private citizens for a more fiscally responsible, equitable and transparent local government.
On the Amherst School Committee, PCA is excited for the positive changes that Jennifer Page will bring about, including her commitment to extensive community outreach on all critical decisions before the School Committee. PCA believes the School Committee will also benefit from incumbent Ben Herrington’s re-election, his collaborative spirit, and commitment to equal educational access for all students.
PCA is grateful that School Committee candidate Phoebe Merriam will continue to serve on the Elementary School Building Committee as a community member. Heather Lord, a School Committee incumbent who declined PCA endorsement, will continue her role on the Town’s African Heritage Reparation Assembly, and on the School Committee until her term ends.
Ononibaku said the newly-elected progressive candidates will be strong advocates for the public, by fighting to assure that all Town Council and School Committee plans and proceedings are fully transparent and responsive to public input.
“PCA, as a political action committee, was only founded a few months before the election,” stated Ononibaku. “We are very grateful for the support many have shown for our efforts. We look forward to being a continuing voice for progressive reforms in Amherst, and to engaging with local elected and appointed officials to broaden representation of all voices in decision-making. ”
Ononibaku noted that the Amherst Sunrise Movement, made up of Amherst Regional High School students, played an important role in supporting progressive candidates. “These young people are well-informed, intelligent and thoughtful citizens, and we very much look forward to working with them in the future,” she said.
Note: PCA did not make endorsements in the uncontested Town Council races in Districts 1, 2 and 5.(For more information about PCA, visit http://www.coalitionamherst.org.) ##