Vergennes-area ballots see choices only in Ferrisburgh

VERGENNES — Few contested races will appear on ballots in Vergennes, Ferrisburgh and Addison, although last-minute interest in seats on the proposed 12-member board to govern all four Addison Northwest Supervisory Union schools could create more contests.

That school board will only be created if the proposed unification measure passes on March 1. Unlike for other offices, the deadline for filing papers for seats on that board is this coming Monday, Feb. 1, not this past Monday, Jan. 25.

Residents will see new faces in elected positions in each of those communities because some veteran board members have stepped down and will be replaced by newcomers.

Things are, as always, less certain in Panton and Waltham, where nominations for elected office are made and votes conducted from the floor of annual town meetings. Most incumbents, however, have said they would like to remain in office in those towns. Those seeking positions on the unified school board will have to file petitions and be voted by Australian ballot.

In VERGENNES, four candidates handed in petitions for four upcoming vacancies on the city council: elected incumbents Renny Perry and Lynn Donnelly; Mark Koenig, who was appointed in December to replace Joe Klopfenstein; and newcomer Matt Chabot, a South Maple Street resident.

Barring a write-in surprise, Chabot will replace Alderman Mike Daniels, who decided not to run again. Daniels, who had earlier served several terms as an alderman, also served two terms as mayor until stepping down in 2013, and then earned another two-year term on the council in 2014.

Also stepping down after multiple terms will be Vergennes Union High School board member Neil Kamman. No one filed paperwork seeking a three-year term representing the city on the VUHS board; that could be a one-year term if unification passes on March 1.

Green Street resident John Stroup will be joining the Vergennes Union Elementary School board after being the only candidate to file for a three-year term on that panel.

As of Tuesday, Stroup was also the only candidate who had filed a petition for one of the four seats on the one ANwSU board that would assume governance of a unified district in July 2017 if unification passes.

City officials said other petitions had been taken out, but not yet returned. Vermont law (Title 16, #706e) requires those interested in serving as directors in a newly formed union district or school to file petitions between 30 and 40 days before a vote. ANwSU officials interpreted that to mean a Feb. 1 deadline, although officials in some communities were still surprised about the two deadlines earlier this week. Addison Central Supervisory Union officials interpreted the law differently, saying candidates for the unified school board needed to file petitions this past Monday.

FERRISBURGH was one of the towns where officials were surprised about the different filing deadlines. Town office workers there had believed the one-board filing deadline was this past Monday, along with that for the other elective offices. They said waiting until Feb. 1 for possible one-board candidates would mean the town would miss printing deadlines for the town report.

Three candidates as of midweek had filed for Ferrisburgh’s four seats on the proposed unified district board: current Ferrisburgh Central School director Laurie Gutowski, VUHS and Ferrisburgh Central School board member George Gardner, and newcomer Finn Yarbrough.

Newcomer Katherine Yarbrough handed in paperwork for the FCS board, and VUHS board incumbent Kristina MacKulin, who was appointed to the board late in 2015 to replace former director Kurt Haigis, is seeking to fill that seat for the remainder of a three-year term.

Two incumbents will run unopposed for the selectboard, current chairman Steve Gutowski and former longtime chairwoman Loretta Lawrence.

Ferrisburgh is the home to the area’s two contested races. In one, FCS board chairman Bill Clark and Paul Hoffman are both seeking to replace longtime town and annual school meeting moderator Don Bicknell, who is stepping down after two decades.

Because of duplicated signatures on the petitions, officials said Clark had to regroup and round up several signatures by Wednesday afternoon to make sure to be on the ballot, something not expected to be difficult.

And the job of delinquent tax collector has drawn three candidates. Vying for that post are incumbent Sally Torrey, a former longtime selectboard member; former longtime town clerk and delinquent tax collector Chet Hawkins, who lost his job to Torrey in a two-way race in 2015; and incumbent town treasurer Garrit Smits.

ADDISON is seeing a full slate of candidates leaving no major openings, but also no races, at least as of midweek.

Incumbent Selectmen Roger Waterman and Steven Torrey both filed petitions seeking re-election, and will run unopposed.

Two newcomers filed for seats on the Addison Central School board, Jasmine Almeida and Michael Krause, while no Addison terms are up on the VUHS board.

Seeking Addison’s two seats on unified district board as of midweek were VUHS board chairwoman Laurie Childers and ACS board vice-chairman George Lawrence.

Seeking new three-year terms are Town Clerk and Treasurer Marilla Webb and school board treasurer Jill Bourgeois.

In WALTHAM, three incumbents’ terms are set to expire on Town Meeting Day: appointed selectboard member Tim Ryan, VUES director Steven Flint, and VUHS director Jeffry Glassberg. All three, said Town Clerk Mary Ann Castimore, have reportedly said they would like to be nominated to serve again.

Castimore and town Treasurer Lucille Evarts would also like nods to remain in their posts, Castimore said.

As of midweek, no one had filed paperwork to get on Waltham’s ballot as the town’s sole representative on the proposed unified district board, but Castimore said one candidate had taken out paperwork and could file by the end of the week.

In PANTON, two officials’ terms are set to expire on Town Meeting Day, those of Selectman Howard Hall and VUES board member Jason Fearon. According to town office workers, Hall, who was appointed to the selectboard in 2015, is interested in being nominated from the floor of town meeting, but Fearon’s wishes were not known.

As of midweek, no one had filed paperwork for Panton’s seat on the 12-member unified district board. 

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