By Dick Lindsay, The Berkshire Eagle

CHESHIRE – Michelle Francesconi and Ronald DeAngelis made decisive victories in the special elections on Tuesday to officially expand the Select Board to five members.

Francesconi defeated the chairman of the planning committee, Donna DeFino, with 407 against 107 votes for the entire term of three years. In the three-way race for the two-year term DeAngelis prevailed with 145 and 103 votes against Michael "Mickey" Biagini and E. Richard Scholz.

In less than two years, DeAngelis will have to seek re-election if the term of office in the 2021 annual city elections is three years.

Advocates for an expanded selection panel waited four years to elect the two new seats. The state and local approval process for the expansion of the Board of Directors from three to five members began in 2015 and ended with the local elections giving the final vote on May 6.

In total, 529 of the town's 2,401 registered voters cast their votes on Tuesday at the Cheshire Senior / Community Center. The turnout was 22 percent; Twenty-one percent of registered voters went to the polls on May 6 to elect two new Select Board members.

Francesconi, wife of fire chief Thomas Francesconi and daughter-in-law of former longtime Chosen Carol Francesconi, believes she has made a name for herself in Cheshire.

"Many people know that I'm involved in the city, so I'm on the pulse of the community," she said. "I plan to use my new role to stay active in the community."

Francesconi, a former police officer in Cheshire for 12 years, says she will continue to listen to local residents' concerns as she did during the campaign.

"People want a blackboard that's so memorable and sensitive, and because I worked in the city, I knew what people were upset about," she said.

DeAngelis highly praised his opponents, saying that each of the three who aspired to the two-year term would do a good job on the Select Board.

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As for his Success in Surveys: "I think more people are open to change and switching to a five-member Select Board is part of it."

DeAngelis, a retiree, wants to make a difference in his adopted home, where he moved to Pittsfield 20 years ago.

"We need more strategic planning for the city, and change requires planning for the future," he said.

DeAngelis plans to remain a member of the Planning Authority and the Water Commission.

The special election on Tuesday continues Cheshire's evolution of the city government, which began almost a year ago.

In September of last year, Ed St. John IV resigned from the selection committee to take on the job of a part-time city administrator. St. John temporarily survived a controversial search process as the two remaining board members Robert Ciskowski and Chairman Carol Francesconi split for a month when they selected a successor to Mark Webber, who retired at the end of 2018, Ciskowski and Francesconi agreed to St. John, who has been in action since mid-December.

A month later, a second seat was opened for the Select Board when Francesconi officially announced that she would not seek another term in May, ending a 30-year tenure.

With two vacancies to be filled in the spring four candidates for Select Board. Mark Biagini, cousin of Michael Biagini, defeated DeFino as successor to Francesconi, and Jason Levesque defeated Scholz to reach the final year of St. John's three-year term expiring in May 2020.

Levesque and Mark Biagini The new arrivals left Ciskowski as a logical choice to become the new chairman. Levesque and Mark Biagini agreed and chose Ciskowski to be the leader in his eighth year as a Chosen One a week after the city elections.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.

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