Contractor takes write-in option

MIDDLEBURY — What had recently been just a two-person field for three, three-year spots on the Middlebury selectboard has suddenly doubled to four candidates, as yet another write-in hopeful has confirmed his intent to run.
Travis Forbes, 31, will urge voters to write in his name on the Town Meeting Day ballot this March. Forbes, vice president of Case Street Redi-Mix Inc., will join a field that includes fellow write-in candidate Brian Bauer (see story on this page) and incumbent selectboard members Janelle Ashley and Nick Artim, who are running for re-election.
As write-in candidates, Bauer and Forbes must garner at least 30 tallies each to be considered for one of the three seats that are up for grabs this year. Artim and Ashley filed their papers before the Jan. 25 deadline and will therefore appear on the ballot. Incumbent Selectman Don Keeler decided not to run for re-election; it is that seat which has drawn interest from Bauer and Forbes. Additional write-in candidates could surface before Town Meeting Day.
“I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time,” Forbes said of a run for the selectboard. “I think it is time for the next generation to step up and serve the town.”
Forbes believes his experience in business, construction and in the concrete industry would make him an asset to the board.
“I have a lot of good ideas, as far as the public works department is concerned,” Forbes said. “I’ve done a lot of construction work and I have grown up around trucks.”
He said one of his prime goals, if he gets elected, would be to get more municipal work put out to bid, particularly to “smaller companies.” He believes such a practice would help the local economy and save the town money on jobs that he said are currently going to larger companies.
Case Street Redi-Mix Inc. has been a frequent bidder for town work on sidewalks and other concrete-related contracts. Forbes said he understands that as a selectman he would have to recuse himself from voting on any contracts on which his company bids.
The town of Middlebury has a policy of soliciting inquiries for jobs estimated in excess of $5,000 and accepting the lowest viable bid, according to Town Manager Bill Finger. The town took a different approach on the $16 million Cross Street Bridge project, however. Officials decided to forego the conventional “bid-build” process in favor of a design-build method. The selectboard selected Kubricky Construction to manage the overall project. Finger said Kubricky has in turn subcontracted out a lot of the work, including to such local companies as J.P. Carrara & Sons, Nop’s Metal Works and Acker Excavating Co.
Still, Forbes contends local contractors “are not getting a fair shake,” and said he would advocate for adjusting the bidding policy accordingly.
Forbes added he would like to see the selectboard do more to add additional jobs and new shopping options to the local mix. Particularly needed, he said, is a larger department store carrying everyday items for low- to moderate-income residents.
“I think we need a place for the locals to shop for clothes,” Forbes said. “It is hard for the working man to shop downtown.”
Forbes said he is spreading the word about his candidacy, which he hopes will stimulate renewed interest in public service.
“I would like to put a lot of effort into sparking some interest,” he said.

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