BRISTOL — Three candidates will vie for two seats on the Bristol selectboard in Town Meeting Day voting on March 6.
While current selectboard Chair Joel Bouvier is running uncontested for his second three-year term, incumbent Sharon Compagna, running for her a two-year term, will face competition from Tim Heffernan.
Compagna has been on the board since 2007, when she was appointed to take the spot of her husband, Armand, who died that year. She won election to that seat on Town Meeting Day that year, and again in 2008 and 2010
If re-elected this year, she wants to continue working toward improving economic housing options for young families and elderly citizens who want to downsize.
“We’re losing a lot of our senior citizens to Middlebury and Vergennes because of their care,” said Compagna, who described herself as “67 years young.” “I’d like to see those citizens who would like to stay in Bristol stay in Bristol.”
She’s also keen on improving employment in Bristol by attracting businesses and keeping Bristol’s downtown vibrant.
“We hope to keep employment in the area up and if this employment park (Bristol Works) gets filled, we’ll get going on another one. I want to keep the town in good shape: the roads, the sidewalks and programs like the Hub and the Rec Department that we want to keep running in a cost effective way.”
Challenger Tim Heffernan, 74, said he wants to add a little diversity to the board. The uncle of Selectman John “Peeker” Heffernan, Tim Heffernan said he wants to represent the town’s interests outside the village.
“Everybody that’s there on the selectboard today is from the village,” said Heffernan, who lives off Route 116 South. “There’s no one from (outside the village) … It seems all the concentration is on Main Street and not on the town itself.”
Heffernan is also concerned about river maintenance. Living along the New Haven River, he’s experienced flooding on his property several times this past year.
“We need to maintain the river within our towns, (even) if it takes dredging of the river to do it,” he said.
Heffernan also said he thinks town spending should be better kept in check.
“Whenever the budget comes up, there’s always a raise. They want more money. Well let’s try to keep them in check,” he said. While the municipal budget, which affects the entire town, has increased every year for the past five years, the landfill, water district, sewer district and police district budgets all decreased this year.
Although Heffernan doesn’t have any government experience, he’s lived in Bristol for most of his 74 years. He also says that his time spent as a trucker, carpenter and construction worker makes him fit to make decisions on the municipal level.
Compagna, on the other hand, comes from a different background. A Bristol resident of 40 years, she still works as a substitute teacher at Bristol Elementary School; she retired from full-time teaching at the school two years ago. She’s active in her church and the community, teaching classes in CPR and first aid.
When asked about her greatest accomplishments as a selectboard member, she responded, “I don’t think any of us stand out. We work as a team, and we work well together.”
When asked why townspeople should vote for her, she replied, “The people of Bristol know me. They know my reputation. They know what I’ve accomplished. They know who I am. And if they vote for me, they know what they’re going to get.”
Reporter Andrew Stein is at email@example.com.
Sue – please run this in a one-column, tinted box on the jump
Mount Abraham Union High School board members Dick Merrill and Pam Jennings, whose terms expire after Town Meeting Day, did not file papers to run for re-election by last week’s deadline. Nor have any other contenders for those two seats emerged.
According to Bristol Town Clerk Therese Kirby, new school board members can be elected via write-in ballot on Town Meeting Day. If no one is elected, she said, the board would interview community members and appoint someone to fill the vacancy