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Longmeadow Daze: Clark Backs Baron for Office He’s Departing…

Longmeadow Daze is an occasional series reporting on and analyzing Longmeadow government and politics.

Elizabeth Baron (via Facebook/Baron campaign)

Retiring School Committee member Michael Clark may be leaving town office, but he has not left the Longmeadow’s political scene. In a statement last week, the 27 year-old outgoing town official threw his support behind Elizabeth Baron, who is seeking one of the three open School Committee seats in the June 13 election.

Clark and colleagues Elizabeth Bone and John Fitzgerald retired simultaneously this year when their three seats on the seven-member Committee were up. While the sudden vacuum did not exactly create a stampede of candidates in this affluent community renowned for its schools, four individuals are contesting the race for the three seats.

Bone, Clark and Fitzgerald’s retirements came amid a broader shift on the School Committee. Most of their allies retired or were defeated for reelection over the last few years. Such realignments on the School Committee and the Select Board are somewhat cyclical. Controversial issues push forward figures who become an opposing pole in the body’s direction.

Clark, who is also a top aide to State Senator Eric Lesser, could provide a boost to Baron. Since a successful 2013 effort to defend the schools budget from Select Board-imposed cuts, he has maintained a significant influence in Longmeadow, especially for someone his age.

Michael Clark in 2013 (Screen capture from LCTV)

“Public education is facing enormous threats from well-funded special interests and the federal government,” Clark said in his statement. “That’s why it has never been more important to have qualified, dedicated people who believe in the virtue of a free and public education for all students on the front lines of this fight” such as Baron.

Clark went on to describe Baron as someone who could skillfully lead in a time of tight budgets. He added she was willing to work with anyone without compromising her principles.

“Elizabeth’s strong convictions and eagerness to serve her community are evident in everything she does,” he wrote. “She will be a great public servant and a true leader.”

Baron, a substitute teacher and mother of three who also teaches Catechism at St. Mary’s Church, launched her campaign on May 3. In her Facebook announcement note, she touted the Longmeadow Schools’ success and expressed a desire to keep this “asset” of the community strong. She described herself as an organizer for the Yes campaign that authorized funds for the town’s new high school.

“I have a keen understanding of what sets Longmeadow apart in terms of its social, cultural, physical, and economic assets, one of which is our dynamic school system,” she wrote.  She also discussed her background in historic preservation and community development. She added that she hoped to bring this experience to the School Committee to facilitate broader collaboration across town government.

In an interview with The Reminder, she also emphasized special education, noting one of her children has dyslexia.

In addition to his endorsement, Clark has been assisting Baron with her campaign.

Four races are on the ballot this year and only two are even remotely contested. Marie Angelides and Bruce Colton are unopposed for Select Board and Planning Board respectively. Other than School Committee, there is a Proposition 2 ½ override on the ballot for a new Public Works facility.

Besides Baron, Thomas Manella, Kerrin Morin and Melanie Rothstein are also running for School Committee.