Only one candidate in Townsend special election this Saturday

Lone candidate Joe Shank looks to complete term of resigned vice chair

Don Klein at a Townsend Board of Selectmen meeting in 2019. Klein was vice chair of the board for a year and a half before resigning on Sept. 29
Don Klein at a Townsend Board of Selectmen meeting in 2019. Klein was vice chair of the board for a year and a half before resigning on Sept. 29

TOWNSEND – Local residents are getting a quick taste of election season this weekend.

Townsend has a special election on Saturday  from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Town Hall.

The election is needed to fill a vacancy on the Board of Selectmen created by then-Vice Chair Don Klein, who resigned from the board on Sept. 29 after dealing with, in his words, “back-door politicking,” in town government.

Klein had been on the board for less than two years and still had a year left on his three-year term, hence the need for a special election. The winner of Saturday’s election will finish Klein’s term on April 25, 2022 and then have to run again for a three-year term.

The only declared candidate is Joe Shank, who’s been vocal on numerous town issues over the years.

The owner of Harbor Auto Body helped lead a group of residents in demanding a recall of then-Selectmen Cindy King and Gordon Clark in February 2017 after a town counsel investigation into the Townsend Police Department lead to major public backlash.

The Supreme Judicial Court upheld a June 2017 ruling in April 2018 from a single justice of the Appeals Court that blocked the recall from taking place because the allegations in the recall petitions did not match specific reasons for which Townsend officials can be removed.

Shank described his feelings last week about the ending of the recall as “water long gone under the bridge” and that “stirring up past issues is not conducive to positive action and positivity is key” in town government.

Shank believes his passion for Townsend and experience with business leadership and community service make him a prime candidate for the Board of Selectmen.

“My goal is to maintain transparency at all levels of town government, ensure our front line workers have all necessary equipment, training and staffing and improve our infrastructure,” he added. “Being a member of the Board of Selectmen is an honor but one that comes with great responsibility. I feel the current board works diligently but being down one member, the task becomes more challenging. Hopefully with a fully seated board, lots of positive things can be accomplished.”

There could also be another new member to the Board of Selectmen come April 26, when Townsend’s annual town election is held. Wayne Miller, the board’s chair, will be up for re-election for another three-year term.

Shank is aware that he’ll have to run again next year, but he’s more focused on clearing Saturday and getting things done.

“It is far too premature to think beyond where we are now,” he said.