Community Forum set for April 24

Check out the April 18 edition of The Register, which will include part two in our series on drug and alcohol abuse among Ludlow’s youth presented as part of the upcoming “Community Forum on Risky Behaviors” to be hosted by the Ludlow C.A.R.E.S Coalition on Tuesday, April 24, beginning at 6:30 p.m., at Ludlow High School.

Published in: on April 16, 2012 at 11:10 am  Comments Off on Community Forum set for April 24  

Meet the candidates

Board of Selectmen (two openings)

Walter E. Craven

Hello. Thank you for taking the time to read a little about me. I am Walter E. Craven, and I am a candidate for the Board of Selectmen in Ludlow. I have lived most of my life in Ludlow, and I have two children in the Ludlow public school system. I have had the good fortune of serving the residents of Ludlow during the past 20 years in both elected and appointed positions. During my 30-year working career I have held various positions, ranging from computer technician in a union shop to being a corporate officer of a business that employed union organized employees. While performing my work-related duties I have had the opportunity to sit on both sides of the table during union contract negotiations. This insight and understanding of that process gives me a powerful leg up and keen understanding of the dynamics of how unions work and how to build valuable relationships with them.

This year is shaping up to be one of the toughest financial years ever confronting our town. Our real estate taxes continue to increase, and our current leaders, and several candidates running against me, are looking for ways to raise even more revenue (a fancy name for more new taxes). I personally have had enough of this style of government. I want to hear our taxes and fees are going down. I believe we can do that! How, might you ask? The first step is by electing strong new leaders that will search for and invoke change. No one likes change, and change can be hard, but we can no longer afford managing our town without change. The good news is no one group needs to suffer, or pay, for this change.

Here are my goals if elected to the Board of Selectmen: First, drive down the cost of health insurance, while not increasing the monetary cost to our employees; second, creation of a town-wide building maintenance team. Consolidating the school custodial staff, school maintenance staff and town custodial staff into one team will allow us to extend the range of services our in-house team can do, while reducing costs, which will protect the integrity of our buildings and facilities; third, filling the available vacancies in the various departments around town, ensuring all departments are appropriately staffed, while driving down our overtime costs, and fourth, driving the savings from the cost of health insurance into the stabilization fund to reduce residents’ real estate tax bills for next year.

Now is the time to elect progressive thinking and forward looking leaders, people who will implement common sense conservative financial controls while providing our employees a living wage and a comprehensive benefits package.

If you want to learn more about me, or my ideas, visit me at, @ Walter E. Craven for Board of Selectmen.

Please cast one of your two votes for me. This is change we can afford; remember “It is your money!”

Thank you for the consideration.


Timothy S. Donnelly

My name is Timothy Donnelly.  I am a lifelong resident, veteran, homeowner and a candidate for the Board of Selectmen. I have a background in accounting, business, and public service. I have served as a Precinct Member for over 13 years, served on the Ludlow Emergency Planning, Hazardous Mitigation and Cable Access committees, and currently serve on the Veterans Memorial Committee.

I worked for the town for over 12 years, six of them as a department head. I am familiar with how our town government works; I have experience with MUNIS (the town’s financial system), contracts, RFPs, and procurement practices.

There are several items I wish to address as part of my platform. They are: taxes, more transparency in town government, preservation of town services and continuing to find new and unique ways of generating revenue for the town.

As in most communities, taxes have gone up.  Ludlow is no different.  At a recent selectmen’s meeting, we were told that Ludlow needs to raise or appropriate $850,000 to $900,000 in order to keep our tax rates down.  This is a substantial amount, but there are ways to cut this by more than half.

A financial handout was available at the meeting.  On it was a line item expenditure under Fiscal Year 2012 of $283,802.  This amount was listed under the Community Center/Randall Boys & Girls Club, a non-profit entity, not a town entity.  My understanding is that the town has been paying the Boys & Girls Club’s utilities, payroll for 2 1/2 employees, etc. for many years.  With the current financial situation, it’s time for the Boys & Girls Club to take responsibility for paying its own bills.

According to other information given at that meeting, the state Department of Revenue stated that increasing the meals tax from 6.25 to 7 percent could add revenues of $220,000; this would increase a $30 meal by less than 23 cents. Adding these items together, we could decrease the amount needed by over $500,000!

With innovative thinking, I believe we can find the monies needed to keep the tax rates down and to also preserve services that were listed as “Discretionary.” The Board of Health, Senior Center, library and Recreation Departments were listed as “Discretionary” spending.

Bringing in more business and continuing projects, such as the proposed solar farm, are a few examples of how we can generate more revenue for the town.

With regard to more transparency in town government, I will push to have all expenditures, contracts and meeting minutes posted online for everyone to see. This is the electronic age, and as such, I believe residents should be able to see, from the comfort of their own home, where their tax dollars are going, as well as what they’re getting for their money.

I have the experience and knowledge to get the job done.  If elected, I will work hard to serve the residents of Ludlow in the manner in which they deserve. I would appreciate your vote on March 26.  Thank you.


Carmina D. Fernandes

Carmina Fernandes was born in Portugal in 1964 and has been a resident of Ludlow for over 30 years. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Massachusetts and her Juris Doctorate from Western New England College (WNEC), where she also received the prestigious distinction of serving on the editorial board of the WNEC Law Review. She participated in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Tanzania, Africa, established by the UN, where she assisted the judicial chambers to bring those directly responsible for the genocide to justice. She opened her law practice in Ludlow in 2004. She speaks various languages.

Attorney Fernandes is an active member in a number of local organizations, including the ERC5 Town Chamber of Commerce where she is Second Chair and Board of Director. She’s also an Executive Board Member of the Ludlow Rotary Club, alternate member of the Ludlow Zoning Board of Appeals, a member of the Ludlow Planning Commission and a member of the Ludlow Cultural Council.

Attorney Fernandes has traveled the world and truly appreciates what the Town of Ludlow has to offer. Her focus as selectwoman would include:

Fiscal Responsibility – Make Ludlow a fiscally responsible and independent town without always relying on increasing taxes and fees to its residents. This can be accomplished by looking for innovative solutions to increase revenues while controlling spending.

Leadership – Establishing leadership that listens to new ideas and differing perspectives and studies the facts before taking action.

Innovation – Bringing this town beyond the 21st Century.

Working for the people – Delivering town government that is for the people and by the people. This means a town government that works and has involved citizens.

Transparency – Offer transparency and information to its residents.

Developing business interests without compromising the needs of town residents.

Making Ludlow an even better place to live and work.

Attorney Carmina Fernandes believes that the highest courage is to dare to be oneself, especially in the face of adversity, choose right over wrong, ethics over convenience and truth over popularity. She has always lived by these truths and will act in the same way if she is elected to the Board of Selectmen.


Christine D. Peacey

I reside in Ludlow with my husband, Jim, a Ludlow Firefighter, and his daughter, Kailey. I have two granddaughters Joselynn and Desiree, my daughter, Meredith’s, children.

My love for this community, coupled with our family’s strong teaching of integrity and giving back in whatever you can, to be helpful to anyone and in the community you live, are a few reasons I wish to help serve.

I am a Ludlow business owner of a Hair Salon and Spa. Being a business owner and employer, I understand how the economy and tax burden is impacting Ludlow residents and how the handling of our town budget impacts our town’s future success.  I am also an active Town Meeting Member and, therefore, familiar with the challenges Ludlow faces.

I have worked with the many town organizations in fundraising and other projects to support residents and youths from the town.

My experience both as a resident of Ludlow and being a business owner has helped teach me the value of hard work and the rewards of community involvement. My commitment to these values is exemplified through my years of community service both locally and statewide. Locally, I was a seven-year AMVETS Auxiliary President at Post #12, Chicopee.  I am currently the AMVETS Department of Massachusetts State Auxiliary President, overseeing all Auxiliaries across the State. I am a Veterans Hospital Volunteer at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, and VA Central /Western Massachusetts Health Care Systems. In these positions I have helped with needs and services of Veterans in Massachusetts.

I am on the Board of Directors of The Fest of All Inc. in Chicopee, which involves planning, financing and organizing one of the largest family outings in the communities of Western Mass.

I am a member of M.A.D.D. and have raised funds to help fight drunk driving and educate local youths about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

My organizational and charitable endeavors have been successful because I know how to set goals and make them a reality. I know that the key to success is not heaping more responsibility on those who are already giving, neither is it to take a hatchet to a budget and denigrate services provided.  Rather it’s to create strategies to stimulate growth, which make the entity stronger and more effective.

The words “fiscally responsible” have become a tired cliché, and this town deserves better! It deserves a successful business owner who understands that she works for the residents of the town and is a spokesperson for the needs of its constituents.

As a town selectwoman, I will help make informed decisions about growth while ensuring that programs assisting those in need are not sacrificed.  No one, no entity, ever got stronger by shrinking.  The key is sustained, logical growth plans for our town, which will provide alternative revenue and allow Ludlow to offer an excellent quality of life to our residents.

I will work hard for the residents of Ludlow and will be the voice of my constituents.


Manuel D. Silva

Lifelong resident of Ludlow

Married, five children, two grandchildren

Principle Assessor Town of Wilbraham

Vice President Hampden/Hampshire Assessors Assoc.

LYSA youth soccer coach for 20-plus years

Member of the Ludlow Country Club

Member of the Gremio Lusitano Club

I, Manuel D. Silva, proudly announce my candidacy for the Ludlow Board of Selectmen. With over 30 years’ experience as the Principle Assessor in the Town of Wilbraham, I believe I am the best choice, the strongest choice with respect to experience and will be a great asset to the Board of Selectmen and Town of Ludlow. Fiscal Year 2013 will prove to be a very difficult year financially. We need to focus on keeping property taxes down by generating more local receipts, tightening our belts and attracting additional revenues sources.

As a member of the Fiscal Planning Committee in Wilbraham, I understand how each department functions and is an integral part of each local community. Tough decisions are going to have to be made, via budget cuts, paying for non-reimbursed storm damage and determining which essential services are priorities. With ongoing increases in insurance premiums, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue is looking at assisting communities to reach Group Insurance Commission levels. These are going to be challenging decisions, but my government experience will enable me to effectively negotiate in this area and others that require knowledge in how local government works.

In my current position as Principle Assessor for the Town of Wilbraham, I am often troubled when I witness the gap between taxpayers and town employees. I believe it is time to bridge that gap and make residents and town employees understand how each party can help each other make our community the best and most efficient it can be.

It would be my sincere pleasure to serve the residents of the Town of Ludlow. My only agenda is to make Ludlow a better place to live and even better place to leave for our children. Please consider voting for me March 26. Thank you.


School Committee (one opening)

Jacob R. Oliveira (Incumbent)

As a fourth generation Ludlow resident and third generation Ludlow Public Schools (LPS) graduate, it has been an honor to serve on the Ludlow School Committee. For nearly 10 years, I have given back to this community and to our schools, first as a student representative to the School Committee from 2002-2004, as a Town Meeting member representing Precinct 1, and, for the past three years, as a member of the Ludlow School Committee.

Since the enactment of education reform, the most important decision of a school committee is appointing a superintendent.  Last week, the Ludlow School Committee appointed Mr. Todd Gazda as Superintendent of Ludlow Public Schools. We were fortunate to have two competent and qualified candidates submitted by the search committee.  Mr. Gazda will be entering a school district with a strong educational foundation. I look forward to working with him to build upon our strengths, but also to address our challenges.

One of the most critical challenges is the need to keep pace with the ever changing world of technology. Although LPS has creatively invested in Smart Boards and limited computer labs, LPS lacks the basic infrastructure and funding to grow the use of technology in our classrooms to keep our students competitive in a 21st century learning environment. Even in these challenging financial times, I am committed to identifying a dedicated revenue source to fund infrastructure improvements to advance the use of technology in our schools.

Like school districts across the Commonwealth, LPS has been faced with many budgetary challenges during the economic downturn. Our 2011-2012 budget continues to be $600,000 less than in 2008. We have successfully balanced the need to make difficult decisions to address those cuts while preventing layoffs and preserving the quality of education within our schools. Recognizing that resources are scarce, I will continue to seek creative ways to maximize efficiencies within the district and build upon collaboration with the town.

As the Assistant Executive Officer of the Council of State University Presidents, I am the only Ludlow School Committee member or candidate whose professional career is in education. As a result of my involvement in higher education, Ludlow is only one of a handful of districts across the state joining with public colleges and universities in the Partnership for Assessing Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) initiative. This is designed to align curriculum from K-12 education with higher education to create clear expectations for college and career preparedness.

In our society, a quality education is considered the great equalizer, allowing students from modest backgrounds the ability to broaden their opportunities. Like many in our community, my family came to Ludlow after immigrating from Portugal and Poland to seek opportunity. The education they received through LPS laid the foundation to realize that opportunity. LPS has done this for my family and for many others.

I ask for your vote on Monday, March 26, to continue to work with the members of the School Committee and our new Superintendent to address our challenges, build upon our strengths and provide opportunity for another generation of Ludlow students.


Deborah A. Stephenson

My name is Deb Stephenson, and I am running for School Committee. I am running because of my strong desire to continue to give back to my community.  My husband Ron and I moved to Ludlow with our daughters 10 years ago. We chose Ludlow for the educational choices, including St. John the Baptist School as an alternative given our Catholic faith, the many support programs offered by the Randall Boys and Girls Club and the sense of community.  We have always felt Ludlow to be a great place to raise our family, and we proudly call Ludlow our hometown.

Our daughters will be entering the sixth and eighth grades next September. Our girls started their education in the public school system where as a family we really enjoyed the K-5 school configuration. When the elementary reorganization took place, we decided it was in our family’s best interest to move our girls to St. John the Baptist School where they could continue to be together. They are now reaching the end of their tenure at St. John’s and will most likely be looking to re-enter the public school system.

I strongly believe that school boards are entrusted in making very important decisions, and they have to establish and maintain an effective, efficient organizational structure for the district, one that lets the superintendent and administrators manage, teachers teach and students learn. School Committee members are responsible for hiring and evaluating a superintendent, approving school policies, monitoring and adjusting district finances and managing the collective bargaining process.  An effective School Committee member needs to be able to discuss and vote on all policies and decisions that affect the district.  My opponent can’t do that due to his father’s position as a teacher. That type of conflict is a huge concern to me as a member of this community.

I hold myself to very high standards, including a strong belief in honesty/ethics, dependability, teamwork and leadership.  My strong ethical beliefs will ensure that I am a member who acts with integrity.  My commitment to dependability will ensure I set demanding standards for myself and work hard to achieve them.  My experience working with various professional and organizational teams will make me a good contributor in the committee forum.  Most importantly, my leadership and decision-making will be guided by a simple, straightforward question: What’s in the best interest of our students?

Given current economic conditions, we need to make systemic changes to increase access, accountability, and academic rigor.  When making decisions I will require analysis, balance needs/concerns and consider the long-term implications of an action.  Balancing the budget will require tough decisions to keep resources focused on the classroom where they make the biggest difference.  I have over 20 years of professional experience working in the banking industry with budgets, regulatory requirements, human relations and strategic management, experience that I will use to ensure our school district exceeds all community members’ expectations. I ask for your support and vote on March 26.  Thank you.


Board of Public Works


Richard A. Zucco

Growing up in and raising my family in Ludlow has been a gratifying experience. I am married to Kathleen Zucco, and we are parents of four children. I am a member of the Polish American Citizens Club, Ludlow Fish & Game Club and Christ the King Church.

I feel it is my responsibility to give back to the town.

My 25 years of construction exposure includes positions at Severyn Construction, Caracas Construction, and my current position as project superintendent at ET&L Corporation of Stow, Mass. My responsibilities include management of crews and materials, subcontractor oversight, project layout, budget oversight and billing. I have participated in projects ranging from roadway and bridge construction to bridge rehabilitation and landfill capping. I have overseen projects from $500,000 to $12,000,000. This compares with services provided by the Department of Public Works (DPW) to the community, and I feel my experience will be an asset to the Board of Public Works and the town.

The difficult financial constraints faced by Ludlow require innovative solutions. Every function or service provided needs to be performed as efficiently as possible.

The Department of Public Works road projects need to be prioritized to maximize the greatest benefit for available dollars. This includes State Chapter 90 monies and budgetary funds provided by the taxpayers.

Consolidating duplicate services in town wherever practical makes fiscal sense. For example, the DPW already provides snow removal services and athletic field maintenance for the School Department. It’s reasonable that the school and DPW trash contracts be unified into one contract, especially since the schools are the greatest source of recyclables in town. Going out for bid as one contract would create a greater financial return for the taxpayer.

Another area that I would like to address is the establishment of an aggressive tree planting program to restore our streetscapes, not only for their beauty, but also for the environmental benefit that trees provide.

I ask the taxpayers of the Town of Ludlow to support my candidacy on Election Day for

the Board of Public Works.

I am eager and energized to serve the community.


Board of Health (2-year, unexpired seat)

Victor Jay Field

  • Resident of the Town of Ludlow since 1983
  • Over 35 years’ experience in the health care field as a licensed nursing home administrator and hospital administrator
  • Previously served on the Ludlow Planning Board, Personnel Board and Board of Health
  • Married for 45 years with two daughters that both graduated from Ludlow High School
  • Deep respect for the Town of Ludlow
  • Founder of Keystone Commons in Ludlow – a 90-unit Assisted Living Facility

Timothy J. Fontaine

My name is Timothy Fontaine, and I am seeking a two-year unexpired seat on the Board of Health.  I have been the health inspector for the town for about six years now and a volunteer with Ludlow’s Emergency Preparedness team.  I believe my 20-plus years in the culinary and restaurant industry would be a great addition to the board.  I am a lifelong resident and graduate of Ludlow High School.  I hold certifications in Serv-Safe, Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HAACP), and food allergen awareness.  I have a great deal of knowledge of the Massachusetts Food Code and all its requirements.

Food safety is a passion of mine. I think everyone likes to go into a restaurant and know that the food is safe and everything is handled properly.

As a health inspector, I deal with all the restaurants that need to be inspected twice a year and stores in town, along with rental properties and residential complaints.

My time as the health inspector has made a big impact on a lot of restaurants and stores in town, but I still see some areas that we can make better.  I have been working in restaurants for years, so I know the do’s and don’ts.  I see a lot of places for improvement, a lot of changes to be made all for the positive. There should be more accountability on business owners.

I also would like to see tobacco compliance checks come back. The program was funded through a state grant, but the town lost the funding a couple of years ago.

I would like to also see better communication within all town departments.

If elected to the Board of Health, I will add 20-plus years of experience in the culinary field, my knowledge about certifications and enforcement regulations to the board. I will also work hard to make sure all businesses are on the same page.  In doing so, this will ensure the safety of our food establishments.


Board of Health (three-year term)


Neil D. Paquette

Three years ago, out of a belief that one should contribute to the community they live in, I ran for the position of Commissioner for the Ludlow Board of Health, a position the town saw me fit to assume by graciously electing me.  In the course of the past three years, I have been presented with a number of challenges I never expected, but I believe to have handled well.

During my first campaign, I ran on a platform of emergency preparedness. Little did I know that we were actually going to be putting some of these practices into play. During my time serving this town we held the first “live-action” drill for an Emergency Dispensing Site (EDS), in conjunction with the state and the CDC, a drill that would prepare us to dispense emergency medication to the community in response to a biological attack.  I’m proud to say Ludlow was the first town in the state of Massachusetts to perform such an exercise. As a result, many lessons learned during the course of this exercise were put into practice during the October snowfall when we had to set up the local shelter.  Again, this was another first for the town, but we pulled it off very well.  I strongly believe my work helped contribute to this.  During my time at the shelter I met many members of the community and gained a better understanding of the people I’m working for.

I am very proud to serve this community with the nurses and staff of the Board of Health and look forward to doing so in the future.


Board of Assessors


Antonio Rosa

Hello, some of you may or may not know me. Let me briefly give you some background on who I am and why I think I would make an ideal candidate to represent the residents of Ludlow. I have been a certified, licensed real estate appraiser for 12 years. I carry the CREA designation and have been certified by the state, which is the highest residential licensing available. I am the owner/president of New England Appraisal Services, Inc., which offers valuation services residentially and commercially throughout New England. Over the years, I have completed thousands of real estate appraisals in the Western Mass area, hundreds in the Town of Ludlow itself. This experience has given me comprehensive knowledge of the area and the Ludlow market. From conversations I have had with town officials, I am the only candidate currently on the board or running who is licensed to appraise real estate. With my extensive experience and qualifications, I can help ensure that if someone has a valid dispute regarding their property assessment, it will be looked at fairly and adjusted accordingly if needed.

Personally, I am 45 years old and have lived in Ludlow for over 40 of those years. I know the community, am an active member of the community and care deeply about it. I am a first generation American of Portuguese descent. My parents immigrated to America to give me and my sisters an opportunity for a better life, and for that I am forever grateful. I’m sure you can sympathize and even empathize as many of you may share this same story. They believed (and still do) if you worked hard, did was right and fought for what you wanted, you could not only reach your goals, but also help others attain theirs. As a result of their loving and often strict upbringing, I developed a strong work ethic, a strong moral compass and the ability to be compassionate when the time calls for it, character traits that serve us all well in my opinion.

In addition to making decisions on abatements, the Board of Assessors has the responsibility to see that the department maintains assessment levels that are allowable by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and that a timely tax rate is set each fiscal year. They make all major decisions involving the department, act on exemption applications and establish all office policy.

I believe my strong, ethical character, long history as a resident of Ludlow, and my vast amount of education, experience and knowledge make me an ideal candidate for the Ludlow Board of Assessors. If elected, I promise I will always act with your interests as a priority and will strive to have the rest of the Board of Assessors do the same. Please consider voting for me on election day. Regardless of how you vote, I hope everyone exercises one of our most important Constitutional rights, our right to vote!

Thank you for your consideration.


Hubbard Memorial Library Board of Trustees


Christine S. Davis

I, Christine Swienton Davis, am running for reelection to the Board of Trustees of Hubbard Memorial Library. I am a graduate of the Ludlow Public Schools, and I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Emmanuel College in Boston. For five years I taught English at the (then) Ludlow Junior High School before “retiring” to start a family. When my children started school, I became involved in parent groups and spent time as the publicity director and president of the East Street School PTO, a member of the Baird Middle School Council, and chairperson of the Cathedral High School Parent Advisory Council, as well as having served on the town’s Elementary Curriculum Study Committee, Kindergarten Study Committee, and the 1993 Superintendent Search Committee. In 1990, I received a Friend of Education certificate from the LEA.

When the late Clara Orlik approached me about running for the Library Board of Trustees, I wasn’t sure what that would entail. She told me that what was important was that I loved the library and that I fought for what I believed in. Both of those are true.

For me, growing up, the library meant access to as many books as I chose to read. To library patrons today, the library means much more. It means Internet access for research, job applications and enjoyment; reference books; magazines; CDs for music; DVDs; children’s programs and adult programs. All of these need the continued support of our town and state governments.

Library trustees do not run the library. We appoint the library director (and we have a great one!) and let her do her job. My job as a trustee is to support her and the library staff by advocating on behalf of the library. I believe I have been doing that, vigorously, and I plan to continue to do so.
Although I am running for this position unopposed, I would appreciate your vote on March 26. Thank you.






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