Kelly Ross, who was a certified candidate for town moderator, pulled out of the race on Feb. 22, and will also not be seeking a fourth term to the Board of Selectmen.
The former candidate has devoted the past 15 years to serving town government, sitting on the Finance Committee for six years. In 2008, he was first elected to a three-year term on the Board of Selectmen and was re-elected twice more.
As chairman of the board, in 2016, Ross became the face of a controversial settlement agreement with Nashua businessman Richard DeFelice who is seeking to build an asphalt plant at 540 Groton Road. The agreement, announced in October, angered residents who blamed Ross for the unwanted outcome.
“I was concerned that issues unrelated to the town moderator position were becoming part of the election for town moderator,” said Ross. “I thought it was best for the town and for the process of choosing a town moderator if I didn’t run.”
The town-wide election takes place on May 2.
Residents planted “no asphalt” signs in their front yards, demonstrated in the streets and called for Ross’s and other selectmen’s resignations. They cited concerns over air, water, and soil pollutants, and increased truck traffic and noise.
Though the Planning Board denied the project twice between 2010 and 2015, a Land Court judge indicated he would rule favorably for De Felice, who appealed both decisions.
DeFelice was granted a permit in November to build the asphalt plant on 3 of 115 industrial acres wedged between a Chelmsford neighborhood and Westford residences. However, he still faces pending litigation from an appeal of the agreement filed in December by Chelmsford selectmen and a second appeal also filed in December by a group of Westford and Chelmsford residents.
Meanwhile the race for town moderator is heating up. So far, only Susan McNeill Spuhler is a certified candidate, but Thomas J. Severo has pulled nominating papers, according to the Town Clerk’s office. In addition, Don Siriani said his nomination papers are signed and ready for submission.
“I’ll be submitting them soon,” he said. Siriani is completing his first three-year term as a selectmen and is not seeking re-election to his seat.
Spuhler sent well wishes to Ross.
“I was sorry to hear that Kelly Ross withdrew his candidacy here in Westford for town moderator,” she said. “I was looking forward to a robust election process, and I wish him all the best…”
The deadline for filing nomination papers is Tuesday, March 14 at 5 p.m. at the Town Clerk’s office, 55 Main St. Westford.