Two Perlees face each other in Bristol selectboard race

BRISTOL — Two in-laws with the same surname will face off for the same open three-year seat on the Bristol selectboard: Kris Perlee and Michelle Perlee.
Michelle Perlee is the wife of Kris Perlee’s cousin, Chad Perlee. Both Perlees are seeking the seat being vacated by incumbent selectboard member Alan Huizenga, who decided not to run for election.
Kris Perlee, who works for Vermont Coffee in Middlebury, is a Bristol native and graduate of Mount Abraham Union High School; he has lived in town for three decades. Perlee sits on the Bristol Planning Commission and for the past five years has managed the town landfill.
He told the Independent his choice to run for selectboard was a continuation of his years of service to the town.
“It’s sort of a natural evolution of the public service I’ve done for the town,” Kris Perlee said. “There was an opening this year that I wanted to run for. I’ve thought about it for a while.”
Perlee said keeping tax rates low while maintaining town services is the paramount challenge facing Bristol.
“First and foremost, I think it’s important to strike a balance between keeping tax bases as low as possible, but not sacrificing services,” Perlee said. “We have to keep the tax rate at an affordable level, so folks stay in their homes and in the community.”
Perlee said another important task for the selectboard is to empower the Bristol Police Department to crack down on drug-related crime in the community. Arrests for drug crime spiked in 2013, a result of increased enforcement.
Perlee said that if he is elected, he will use the first year of the job to get a feel for the position.
“I don’t have an agenda; it’s really getting a feel for what the selectboard is,” Kris Perlee said. “I’ve never served on it so the reality is it’s a group of five people that try to create what’s best for our town.”
In addition to his town duties, Perlee also serves as one of the executive officers for the Bristol Recreation Club, a private entity that maintains the town’s  recreation fields. He is also a member of the Bristol Fire Department and coaches youth sports.
“For me, this is the next step,” Kris Perlee said. “Hopefully I can contribute to keeping Bristol a place where we can live and thrive.”
Michelle Perlee has lived in Bristol for 20 years. She works as a paralegal in Middlebury and also owns Body Sense, a massage business in Bristol. Outside of work, Perlee said she volunteers, citing her work with the Three Day Stampede and her leadership in the Bristol 4-H club.
Perlee said she is running for the selectboard because she wants to play a larger role in helping to improve her town and to increase the number of women holding town offices.
“I decided I wanted to become more involved in the community,” Perlee said. “I’m hoping to get another female voice back on the board.”
Currently, Sharon Compagna is the lone female member of the selectboard. She is running uncontested for re-election this year.
Perlee said that because she does not live in the former Bristol Village and is not a firefighter, she would bring a different perspective to the board. Currently, two of the five selectboard members, Joel Bouvier and Peeker Heffernan, are members of the Bristol Fire Department. If Kris Perlee is elected, the majority of the board will be members of the fire department.
Perlee cited the town police budget and the ongoing process to build a new home for the fire department as important issues facing the town, but said there is no single issue she is hoping to address if she is elected.
“I don’t have a hidden agenda,” Perlee said.
As for running against his cousin-in-law, Kris Perlee joked that neither candidate will win because of name recognition.
“We can eliminate that,” Perlee said. “It often pollutes our political system.”
Michelle Perlee said that she hadn’t given much thought to running against a relative.
“I don’t really think about it that way,” Perlee said. “There’s no animosity between the two of us.”

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