Almost a year after a federal lawsuit against the town police department set off a chain of scandals and resignations, Williamstown, Massachusetts municipal elections are coming up Tuesday. WAMC has the third of our select board candidate profiles.
Wade Hasty, 35, is running for the remaining year of an open three-year seat on the select board. The Army veteran spoke with WAMC in March about his shock at the revelation that the Williamstown Police Department had illegally searched his records after he criticized them publicly.
“It feels like they shattered my oath," Hasty told WAMC. "I took an oath to defend the Constitution, and I take the First Amendment very seriously – and to know that speaking out against our government would have some sort of backlash. Not only that, but I have my own feelings of being hypervigilant. I served, like I said, for three years in combat, and to come back and see that they could be building intel packets on the citizenry is just… it’s so bizarre and absurd to me and egregiously disgusting, I don’t know how to navigate it.”
Now, he says he can bring his leadership experience from the Army to the town as it attempts to drag itself out of an escalating controversy.
“I’m from Maine, I grew up in a small town," said Hasty. "About a half dozen different towns took to make up my high school graduating class of 75. So it's a very small community. I grew up in a foster home. I myself was not a foster child, but I was exposed to many different children and their trauma. It kind of resonated with me, my parents need to serve a greater community. And then I took that same attempt with joining the Army and I served the country for 11 years before getting out.”
Hasty is currently pursuing a master’s degree in data science at Utica College.
“My goal is to continue to serve as I can, fighting back against things like the NSA spying and the predatory nature in marketing,” said the candidate.
He says a failure of leadership on the part of the select board has contributed to the division in Williamstown over issues like police misconduct, systemic racism and reform.
“There were things that the select board members could do," Hasty told WAMC. "They could show a presence, they could show a show of force, strength, that reassured the community, that this volatility that this chaos that was that was happening wasn't just something that couldn't be managed. And instead of reassuring the town, they projected the opposite. And it told me that there's a lot of leadership that's lacking. And for what’s something that's- something very basic me because I've been through half a dozen leadership schools, I've played it out so much that, for me, leadership is just my second nature.”
Hasty points to last year’s town meeting – held after WPD Sergeant Scott McGowan’s bombshell lawsuit that alleged racism and sexual harassment in the police department – as a galvanizing moment.
“They told us that they were going to have a conversation, right?" said Hasty. "Because it was requested, hey, let's have a conversation about the MCAT complaint that had just happened. We waited there for hours. And then right at the end of it, because they said we were going to have that conversation, right at the end of it, they just dismissed everybody. They waited everybody out. A bunch of people went home. And then they dismissed everybody. They never even attempted to have that conversation, nor they attempt to apologize or anything like it, or even acknowledge it. And so my first impression is that the town government here doesn't care to actually validate anyone. They just want to keep sweeping it. So it seems like the select board members only wanted to be select board members when it was easy. And that's not the time to be a leader. That's the opposite.”
Hasty is running against contractor and musician Albert Cummings for the seat.
Elections are May 11th.