AMHERST – Soon after the 2008 municipal election, Lisa Emery made a promise to herself. She was going to win a seat on Amherst town council.
That commitment will be officially fulfilled Monday when she is sworn in as a member of council during a ceremony at the Amherst Fire Department beginning at 7 p.m.
“I set a goal for myself four years ago that I was going to get elected to town council,” Emery said. “I began thinking about it then, plotting my strategy. When September rolled around I was ready to go.”
Emery is the first female town councilor in Amherst since the 1990s when both Joyce Gouchie and Theresa Halfkenny said on council. Gouchie would go on to be mayor from 1994-97.
“I’m hoping people have more faith in me than just become I’m a woman. I’d like to think that’s not why I was elected,” she said. “Still it’s nice to have a woman on council because it will provide a different way of approaching things.”
Emery, the daughter of former Amherst town councillor and mayor Ray Emery, was one of two new councilors elected on Oct. 20 when voters went to the polls. Retired ARHS administrator and teacher Frank Balcom is the other new face.
“I don’t think of it as following in dad’s footsteps, although I’m sort of following his path in that he also served on the police commission,” Emery said. “People ask me about that but I say ‘Yes I’m following in his path, but I like to follow my own footsteps.”
Veteran councilors George Baker, Terry Rhindress, Dave Match and Robert Bird were all re-elected on election night, as was Mayor Robert Small.
Balcom, who has served on numerous boards and commissions, is looking forward to getting to work.
“I guess I’m chomping at the bit to get started. I’m really excited,” Balcom said Friday. “I know there’s a lot on our plate and I’m looking forward to digging in and seeing how we can move forward as a town.”
Balcom said he’s looking forward to continued work in the downtown and is pleased with the town’s decision last week to give businessman Jeff Bembridge the green light to redevelop the former police building.
He’s also looking forward to acting on some of what he and other councillors heard during the election campaign.
“Everyone talked to me and, probably every other candidate, about taxes. It’s something we seriously have to look at,” Balcom said. “We owe that to the electorate.”
Emery, who has served on the Amherst police commission for several years, is looking forward to working on the police issue, including a permanent facility for the department that was displaced following the August fire downtown and finding a replacement for retiring chief Charles Rushton.
“I also want to see continued development in the downtown,” she said. “I’m thrilled with Breakfast at Brittany’s.”
Both rookie councillors said they will be leaning on their fellow municipal leaders in the first few months. They will also be attending a three-day municipal training session in Truro.