Middlebury seeks short-term replacement for Nuovo’s seat

MIDDLEBURY — Wanted: A community-minded citizen with no long-term political ambitions willing to serve a three-week stint on the Middlebury selectboard that will end on Town Meeting Day, March 4.
That’s essentially the “want ad” the town has put out for a prospective interim selectboard member to fill a spot vacated on Jan. 2 by Victor Nuovo. Nuovo resigned from the board, saying he believed his presence on the panel was becoming a distraction in light of some conflict-of-interest complaints that had been leveled against him in recent weeks. Those complaints argued that Nuovo should not vote on, or discuss, aspects of a proposed town-gown deal that would culminate in a new municipal building and recreation center. Nuovo is a retired professor of philosophy at Middlebury College.
With Town Meeting Day just around the corner, the selectboard considered leaving Nuovo’s position vacant until March 4, at which time candidates will be able to run for the remaining year on his term. But after receiving legal advice and considering the prospect of some 3-3 stalemate votes in the weeks ahead, the board on Tuesday agreed to pursue an interim appointment.
That said, town officials want to make sure that their pick is not made from anyone seeking to run for the selectboard this year.
“It would imply an endorsement,” Selectman Craig Bingham said of the effect of assigning the interim job to someone planning to be on the 2014 ballot.
At the same time, board members are concerned that the brevity of the term might dissuade prospective candidates from applying. By statute and schedule — barring a special meeting —  the selectboard must solicit applicants who will be reviewed at the panel’s next gathering, on Jan. 28. The board would then vote on an interim colleague at its Feb. 11 meeting, at which time the appointee could immediately join the board. After what would amount to a metaphorical cup of coffee as a selectperson, the appointee would step down on March 4.
Selectwoman Susan Shashok noted there could be no takers for the interim stint, in which case the board would have to operate with its current six members and hope there will be no 3-3 votes.
Anyone interested in applying for the post may submit a letter of interest to the Middlebury Selectboard, c/o Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay, 94 Main St., Middlebury, VT 05753.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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