Alderwoman bows out; Addison races loom

VERGENNES — Few races for elective office in March are shaping up in the five-town Vergennes area, but the Little City will have one new alderman, while a persistent Addison critic of Addison Northwest Supervisory Union unification is seeking two seats on school boards, including on the one panel that would govern ANwSU if that measure is approved.
The new member of the Vergennes City Council will replace two-term incumbent Christine Collette, who opted to step down for what she called four good reasons — that’s the number of grandchildren she has.
“I’m hoping to spend a lot of time at their school activities,” said Collette, the manager of the city’s Merchants Bank branch.
As well as four years on the council, Collette already in the past served a dozen years on the Vergennes-Panton Water District Board and about 15 years on the city’s planning and zoning panels. Consecutively, she has served on one or more municipal boards for the past two decades.
“It’s someone else’s turn. I hope I did a good job,” Collette said.
In her most recent post on the city council, she said she was happy to have helped oversee frugal spending and the hiring of Police Chief George Merkel about a year ago. 
“Our biggest thing was to hire George Merkel and to have the respect coming back to our police department,” Collette said. 
As well as Collette’s term, those of Mayor Michael Daniels and Aldermen Randall Ouellette and Joe Klopfenstein are also expiring. All three incumbents filed petitions by Monday’s deadline to seek another two-year term and will run unopposed. 
Filing a petition for the seat Collette is vacating was Peter Garon, who ran for the council in both 2007 and 2008. Garon came up short both times, but amassed a respectable vote total of 384 in the latter year.
On the school board front in Vergennes, incumbent Vergennes Union High School director Christopher Cousino is seeking another three years, and incumbent Vergennes Union Elementary School directors Tara Brooks and Carla Mayo filed for three and two years, respectively. 
Vergennes is allotted four seats on the ANwSU unified union board that would be created if all five union towns back unification in March. Filing were VUHS director Neil Kamman, VUES director Cheryl Brinkman, Cousino and Brooks. 
Addison will be home to the area’s only contested Australian ballot races, three in all. Panton and Waltham could see contests, but nominations and votes are handled from the floor of town meeting in both those communities, and candidates did not have to act by Monday’s statewide petition deadline.
Starting with the selectboard, Rob Hunt filed for a three-year seat, as did long-term incumbent Selectman Kimball Provencher, setting up a race between two veteran Addison public officials. Hunt is a longtime former Addison Central School director and ACS board chairman.
Meanwhile two selectmen, longtime incumbent Steven Torrey and Lisa Davis, who was appointed last year to replace the late Dwight Burnham, also filed petitions to stay on the board. They face no opposition. 
The ACS board also will see a race. Unification critic Carol Kauffman, who has also criticized the board for its handling of funds and some other issues, is challenging incumbent Michele Kelly for a three-year term on the board. Kelly was appointed to the board in April 2010 to fill a vacancy. Another ACS board incumbent, chairwoman Kathy Clark, is running unopposed. 
Kauffman is also seeking a three-year term on the unified ANwSU board if it is created on Town Meeting Day, although she helped lead a petitioned revote that overturned Addison’s March 2010 vote in favor of unification. Her opposition for a board seat? Hunt, who will be looking to wear more than one hat as votes are cast in March. 
Finally, Addison’s incumbent representative on the VUHS board, Donald Jochum, is also on the ballot twice — he is looking to be returned to that job, and to be Addison’s other representative on the new unified board.
Ferrisburgh offers more of a status quo look. Selectboard incumbents Jim Warden and Sally Torrey both opted to run again, for three and two years, respectively; they are unopposed. Warden and Torrey were elected to the Ferrisburgh selectboard together in 2005 and have served since.
Also unopposed is VUHS director Laurie Gutowski; she has served on that board since 2000 after previously being a member of the Ferrisburgh Central School board. 
Also filing for re-election were three FCS board members. Two — David Tatlock and Karen Beebe — were appointed to the board to fill vacancies, and the third, Cheryl Carlson, is looking for a second two-year term.
Ferrisburgh is allotted four seats on the ANwSU unified board. Gutowski filed for one, FCS director Kurt Haigis is seeking another, and former longtime FCS board member Adela Langrock filed for a third. 
The fourth seat is now going begging. An appointee will fill that term if no one mounts a successful write-in campaign — unless, of course, the ANwSU unification measure fails and makes the board a moot point.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected]

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