Before his election in May 2012, Gibson served on the town's Wind Energy Research Panel, which recommended against a developer's proposal to site an industrial wind turbine project on Lenox Mountain. The Select Board unanimously rejected the project in February 2012. A supermajority of Lenox voters approved a conservation restriction in May 2013 to legally and permanently protect 948 scenic acres of Yokun Ridge, including Lenox Mountain, from residential, commercial or industrial development through a partnership between town government and the Berkshire Natural Resources Council.
LENOX – After serving two three-year terms and earning high marks for his service to the community, Selectman Channing Gibson has decided not to seek re-election this May.
Gibson, an Emmy-award winning Hollywood TV and film writer and producer (“St. Elsewhere,” “NYPD Blue,” “L.A. Law”) who relocated with his family to town in 2009, said “it has been a privilege to serve on the Select Board, to be entrusted with one-fifth of the town’s stewardship. This is an exceptional community, and I have treasured the last (almost) six years as one of its elected officials.”
Before his election in May 2012, Gibson served on the town’s Wind Energy Research Panel, which recommended against a developer’s proposal to site an industrial wind turbine project on Lenox Mountain. The Select Board unanimously rejected the project in February 2012.
A supermajority of Lenox voters approved a conservation restriction in May 2013 to legally and permanently protect 948 scenic acres of Yokun Ridge, including Lenox Mountain, from residential, commercial or industrial development through a partnership between town government and the Berkshire Natural Resources Council.
In his first years on the board, Gibson helped navigate town government through the unsuccessful effort to market the community through the “Lenoxology” branding slogan, a heated debate over a memorial installed in Kennedy Park to honor a former resident who died of cancer, and a Kinder Morgan gas pipeline proposal, since abandoned, whose original route would have cut through the town’s watershed and many other properties.
“Channing brought a unique and valued perspective to the board,” said board Chairman David Roche. “He devoted countless hours to our many issues. During our time serving together, I valued his opinions and viewpoints.
“While we didn’t always agree, he challenged us with his well-thought-out positions,” Roche added. “I will miss his input, sense of humor and ethical approach to politics. He has served the residents well, and I hope someday he finds his way back to serving again.”
Gibson also served during the transition from former Town Manager Gregory Federspiel to Christopher Ketchen, now the chief administrative officer for Lee and Lenox.
“He was very supportive during a critical time of transition in 2014-15,” Ketchen said, referring to his first year as town manager while Gibson chaired the Select Board. “Any time a capable, articulate, thoughtful person decides to move on, it’s a loss. The town’s better off for the years he was able to spend, and I suspect, as a former selectman, he will continue to make contributions to the community. Always, universally, he treated everyone with respect.”
“Lenox is in good shape,” Gibson said Monday. “Challenges lie ahead, of course. Improvements can be made. Decisions, some large, some small, will be required as the community moves into its future. But nothing looms as a crisis.”
As he put it, “If the town were a person, I think our doctor would say, `You’re very healthy. Keep taking care of yourself.’ It would be hard for mfter two e to step away if that weren’t the case.”
“It has been an honor and a pleasure to sit at the table with my fellow board members, whom I count as lifetime friends and on whom I have depended for advice and insights,” he added. “They’re terrific people who care deeply about Lenox and put in many hours to serve the town.”
Explaining his decision, Gibson noted that he has been negotiating with Warner Brothers to write the screenplay for a fifth “Lethal Weapon” movie. “Should it happen,” he pointed out, “I would be unable to serve on the Select Board.”
“Even if the movie doesn’t come together – a very likely possibility, knowing Hollywood as I do – I am ready now to begin focusing my time and attention on other creative projects,” he said.
Gibson and his wife, artist Cynthia Wick, are empty-nesters since their sons, Charlie, 23, and Jack, 18, are no longer living at home.
“We hope to make the most of our new opportunity to do what we want without being restricted by a selectman’s obligations,” he said.
“I honestly feel that whatever I have brought to the board has been greatly enhanced by the partnership with my fellow selectmen and by Chris (Ketchen) being at the helm,” Gibson said. “To whatever extent my contribution has helped make Lenox a better place, I’m honored.”
“I think the board will miss his insight,” Selectman Edward Lane said. “He’s had a good run. He’s been a fantastic friend for the past six years; I got to know him really well.”
“It’s incredible when someone of his caliber is willing to give his time,” Selectman Kenneth Fowler said. “We were lucky to have him as long as we did. It’s his decorum, his ability to state his point without becoming antagonistic. Those kinds of qualities in a leader are really important. Channing has never been afraid to speak his mind, but he does it in a way that doesn’t make people bristle against him. You listen to him rather than figure out how to fight him.”
“He had the ability to tell you to go to hell and actually make you look forward to the trip,” state Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D-Lenox, agreed.
“This wasn’t an easy decision,” Gibson said. “I’ve come to love the challenges and dynamics of civil leadership. In a community where Town Meeting is the ultimate decider, board members must remain humble, flexible and realistic, which are good requirements for all leaders – and for people in general. I think I’ve developed personally as a result of serving as a selectman. We’ll see where that leads, how it informs my future, creatively and otherwise.”
Nomination papers for the May 7 annual town election are available from Town Clerk Kerry Sullivan through March 15. They must be returned no later than March 19 with 20 signatures of registered Lenox voters.
“It will be interesting to see who steps up, and who is finally elected,” Gibson said. “New voices, new perspectives are important in order to keep town government evolving, fresh, creative.”
Summing up Gibson’s two terms, Pignatelli said: “I think the town is better than when he got here. He’ll be missed; his mark has been very indelible, and he’s been good for the history of Lenox.”
“While I constantly hear from people that serving on the Select Board is a thankless job, I actually get thanked all the time,” Gibson said. “That has been truly rewarding.”
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