MIDDLEBURY — A three-way race for two selectboard spots will spice up an otherwise tame local election ballot in Middlebury on March 1.
Eric Murray, 49, of East Middlebury will oppose incumbent Selectmen Dean George and Craig Bingham in the race for two three-year terms on the board. Monday, Jan. 24, was the deadline for candidates for municipal and school offices to file their nomination papers to get on the March 1 Town Meeting Day ballot.
George and Bingham confirmed their re-election plans earlier this month. Murray, owner of East Middlebury-based EJM Enterprises — a company that specializes in heavy equipment and truck repairs, as well as towing — decided this was a good year to make his second bid for a seat on the board. Murray ran for a spot around a dozen years ago and narrowly lost to former Selectman Max Eaton.
“I’ve been going (to run) for some time and a lot of people have asked me to do it,” Murray said during an interview on Tuesday. “I thought this year would be a good time to do it.”
Murray, a lifelong resident of the area, said he wants to contribute to the community and give a voice on the board to residents he said are currently not being heard. Murray said there is a core group of Middlebury residents who are fiscally conservative and want the town to be more business-friendly.
“I have had several people say they would like to see a department store in the area,” Murray said. “I have heard several people comment that they don’t think Middlebury is a business-friendly place.”
Murray said he is concerned about the recent departure of several prominent businesses from Middlebury. Casualties have included Standard Register and Monahan Filaments,while Connor Homes recently announced its move from Middlebury to Brandon.
The current selectboard has made economic development a high priority, having given tax stabilization to Green Mountain Beverage to expand while also endorsing a marketing position for downtown Middlebury. The board has also been working with Middlebury College to develop a mixed-use building on land behind the Ilsley Public Library.
Murray would like a seat at the selectboard table to promote more business activity and tight budgeting.
“I am a conservative type of person,” Murray said. “I like to see things well thought-out and thoroughly planned.”
Murray and his wife, Erika, have five grown children between them and one grandchild.
George was elected to the selectboard in 1996, while Bingham is completing his sixth term in office. Both incumbents shared their views on the issues in an article that appeared in the Jan. 6 issue of the Independent.
Barring eleventh-hour write-in campaigns, there will be no other races on Middlebury’s local election ballot. Running unopposed are:
• James Douglas, town moderator, one year.
• Ann Webster, town clerk, three years.
• Jackie Sullivan, town treasurer, three years.
• Serena Eddy-Moulton, Karen Lefkoe and Lorraine Gonzalez Morse; Mary Hogan Elementary School board, all for three years.
• Maria Graham, Ilsley Public Library Board of Trustees, five years.
• Devin McLaughlin and Quinn Mecham, UD-3 board, three years each. A third-year term being vacated by longtime UD-3 board member Tom Beyer will have to be filled through a write-in campaign or by appointment.
Beyer is completing his ninth year on the UD-3 board, of which he is a past chairman. He said he decided not to run for re-election in order to spend more time with family and focus on professional duties at Middlebury College, where he is a professor of Russian.
Beyer said he enjoyed his time on the board and will consider re-entering public service in the future. In the meantime, he will stay activewith the Middlebury Community Players.
“I will regret not having the opportunity to serve with so many wonderful, dedicated people,” he said of his UD-3 colleagues.
Reporter John Flowers is at email@example.com.