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Robert challenges Bluhm for Northfield selectman seat

February 23, 2011
NORTHFIELD — When Northfield voters go to the polls in March they will be asked to decide between two candidates for an open seat on the Board of Selectmen, as two-term incumbent and current chairman Stephen Bluhm is being challenged by Sally Robert, former administrative secretary for the Northfield Police Department who also has worked at Town Hall and served the town for 22 years.

Stephen Bluhm

Bluhm has been a resident of Northfield for 25 years and said that his six years as a selectman have always been geared toward doing what he has felt is in the best interest of both the town and the taxpayers. He said that task has been made easier by sharing the responsibilities with competent people on the select board who all have the same vision for Northfield.

"One man cannot do everything and it takes a good team to get things done. We've all worked very well together and even if we haven't always agreed we work on something until we reach a compromise we can all live with," Bluhm said.

His main focus has been fiscal responsibility and said he has put in countless hours of work to present new ideas to voters.

"When I've seen something putting too much of a burden on the taxpayers, I've been very willing to look at alternatives. I'll do the research and then leave it up to them to decide if that's what they want to do," said Bluhm.

Some of his decisions have not always been necessarily popular, he said, but in the long run he strongly believes he has done what is best for the town as a whole. He and fellow selectmen throughout his term have only made necessary purchases to keep the town operating at an efficient level and have been amenable to looking at any and all suggestions to further reduce costs for Northfield residents.

"Anything we can do to save money in the best interest of the town is what I see as my job as selectman. There is no personal agenda in what I do. Agendas just cost the town money in the long run," said Bluhm.

The select board is currently looking at ways in which to revamp the town's highway department to curb expenses and has also been investigating the future of recycling in Northfield, one project out of many that Bluhm would like the opportunity to complete.

Bluhm prides himself in being an approachable town official who is always available to residents and said he will never say "no" without an explanation.

"I will always explain why I believe what I do but I'll also listen. If there are more facts for me to learn then I'm also willing to reconsider my position if need be," Bluhm said.

He feels his job as selectman has been to calculate what the future may hold and plan ahead so the town is prepared for whatever changes may impact tNorthfield on a local, state or federal level.

Sally L. Robert

Sally Robert is no stranger to municipal government. She worked as an accounting clerk at Town Hall, served on the Budget Committee in the mid 1980's and was an administrative assistant at Northfield Police Department for 20 years, as well as a certified part-time police officer.

Robert has lived in Northfield with her husband Tom for over 30 years and recently purchased Maple Lane Farm, which has been in Tom's family for generations. While the Roberts run a haying operation on the farm now, her recent retirement from the police department has left her with time on her hands that she would like to devote to public service.

While she had been thinking about running for public office at some point in the future she decided to throw her hat in the ring this year after receiving a lot of support from residents and family.

"A number of people had approached me and asked me to run, and my family and friends were encouraging me, too, so I decided this was the year," Roberts said.

Robert said she has no agenda in running for selectmen but would like to find a way to better inform residents and encourage them to participate in town government. Minutes of meetings, she said, are currently posted in an outline form, which she feels does not give a clear picture of events and conversations at those meetings. That leaves room to misinterpret circumstances surrounding decisions made by selectmen and other town boards or committees.

"I'd really like to find a way to encourage more people to come out to meetings versus looking at minutes or hearing rumors on the street. Many just show up at Town Meeting every year and I'd like to see people become more involved," said Roberts.

As a long time resident of the town she is also committed to retaining the country atmosphere of Northfield while maintaining property taxes, keeping budget expenditures low and striving for more fiscal conservancy.

"I think input from town employees is important. I'd like to get their feelings and hear their ideas on ways to save money in the different departments in town," Robert said.

Since she is retired now she emphasized the fact that she has time to devote to her role as selectman should she be elected. She said she would be readily available to speak with residents and employees, bring her own ideas to the table and address the problems facing the town on daily basis.

"I have plenty of time for this now and look forward to serving my fellow citizens," said Robert.

Elections in Northfield will take place from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8, at Town Hall.

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