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Zorn announces he is dropping out of Egremont Select Board race

While it is still possible that a write-in candidate could win the special election, it appears that Allen is set to win the Select Board seat.

Egremont — Less than three weeks after announcing that he would be running for the Select Board seat left vacant by the death of Board Chair George McGurn, Ari Zorn has announced that he is pulling out of the race. The special election to serve for the one year left on McGurn’s term is Tuesday, June 18.

According to multiple sources, Zorn announced that he was dropping during a Zoom meeting of the Egremont Democratic Party. Both Zorn and Finance Committee Chair Laura Allen, who is a registered Republican, were seeking the endorsement of the party for the Select Board seat. Towards the end of the meeting, after both candidates made stump speeches asking for the party’s endorsement, Zorn announced that he was going to withdraw from the race.

Multiple sources say that the Egremont Democratic Party voted to endorse Allen by a vote of 21 to five.

Zorn, originally from Brookline, Mass., co-owns Devine Retail Cannabis and a second business, Zorn Core Fitness, in South Egremont. He also serves on the boards of multiple organizations, including the Blackshires Community Empowerment Foundation, Berkshire Environmental Action Team, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Sculpture Project.

“After learning more about the time required to do the job properly, it never would have worked,” Zorn wrote to The Berkshire Edge via email. “Not to mention it would have taken me away from my true passions.”

When Zorn spoke to The Berkshire Edge over the phone, he cited his work with the organizations as his “true passions.” “People came to me and said that I have to be the one to run for this position,” Zorn said. “I spoke to a person at Town Hall, and it sounded like the time to do the job wasn’t going to be so much. But then I spoke to Select Board members in other towns. I came to the conclusion that this job is a 20- to 30-hour-a-week job, sometimes more. That would just take away from everything that I am very passionate about.”

Via email, Allen said that Zorn mentioned at the caucus that he believed she was the more qualified candidate. When asked if he was going to endorse Allen, however, Zorn responded, “I have no comment on that.”

“She’s been in town for a long time,” Zorn said. “But in Egremont and many other towns, who’s going to fill the shoes of these people who are much older? It’s a problem across the country and across the board. Who is going to fill the shoes and will be the next people stepping up? I represent community in all ways, and who is stepping into that?”

Zorn said that, during the meeting, some of the members of the Democratic Party told him that he did not know a lot about the governance of Egremont. “In some ways, that has merit,” Zorn said. “But, that’s why you learn. That’s why you have financial committees and all the different committees that are established and that you work with.”

Zorn added, “I may come back to this in a year because this Select Board seat is a one-year term.”

The deadline to submit nomination papers for the June 18 special election was on April 30. While it is still possible that a write-in candidate could win the special election, it appears that Allen is set to win the Select Board seat.

Allen and her husband Richard were originally second-home owners in Egremont for over 25 years before becoming full-time residents in 1999. She has held a seat on the town’s Finance Committee since 2002 and became its chair in 2004. As per the town’s bylaws, however, Allen would have to step down from the Finance Committee if elected.

 

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