CHATHAM – Two last-minute candidates, one of whom is a former selectman, have transformed this year's annual town election from what was an uncontested yawner into a potentially hot race.
Last Thursday, the final day to secure a place on the May 17 ballot, Seth Taylor turned in nomination papers to run for the two three-year terms on the board, while Jamie Bassett turned in papers for the one-year unexpired term up for election.
Prior to that, the three seats on the board were uncontested. Taylor, who lost his seat last year after one term on the board, will now face incumbents Cory Metters and Dean Nicastro. The two candidates winning the most votes will each serve three-year terms.
Shellfish Advisory Committee Chairman Bassett will run against Planning Board Chairman Peter Cocolis for the one-year unexpired term on the board left vacant by the January resignation of Amanda Love. The seat has been vacant since she stepped down.
There is also a contested race is for the housing authority. Incumbent Priscilla Ford will challenger Kayta Koehler-Rice for a five-year term.
Taylor served on the board of selectmen from 2014 to 2017. Last year he was defeated by Shareen Eldredge in his bid for a second term.
Taylor grew up in Chatham and worked as a special agent for the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Department of Homeland Security. He also worked as a commercial fisherman and shellfisherman and was a Peace Corps volunteer. As a selectman, he was closely involved in the town's effort to fight the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's claim to the waters west of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. He was one of two board members who formed a working group with town staff to convince federal officials to restore local jurisdiction over the area. He testified on the town's behalf in front of a Congressional subcommittee considering legislation to set federal jurisdiction over the refuge at low tide. The legislation was reported out of committee favorably and awaits a vote by the full House of Representatives.
Bassett is chairman of the shellfish advisory committee and a long-time commercial shellfisherman.
Numerous efforts to contact both Taylor and Bassett were unsuccessful.
Uncontested candidates include moderator William Litchfield, who is seeking another three-year term; Jo-anne Sheehan, who is seeking a three-year term on the Monomoy Regional School District school committee; Joseph Auciello, who is running for a one-year unexpired term on the school board; and Janice O'Connell, who is unopposed for a two-year seat on the housing authority.
The last day to register to vote in the election and the May 14 annual town meeting is Tuesday, April 24. The town clerk's office will be open until 8 p.m. that evening to accommodate late registratiobn.
Email Tim Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org