Three candidates vie for two seats on Lincoln selectboard

LINCOLN — Two incumbents and one former board member are vying for two seats on the Lincoln selectboard. Paul Forlenza, Elwin Isham and Will Sipsey will face off in one of only two contested races on the Town Meeting ballot.
Forlenza is a consultant who specializes in healthcare reform policy and health information technology. He has lived in Lincoln since 1999, and has owned land in town for 35 years.
Forlenza was first elected to the selectboard last year when the body expanded from three to five members.
“For me, it was a learning experience,” Forlenza said of his first year on the board. “I was just amazed at the diversity of the issues that comes before the board — roads, gravel pits, dog ordinances, healthcare benefits for town employees, a host of other things.”
Forlenza said he was proud of the board’s work over the past year to save on gravel and sand costs by using a pit in Lincoln instead of hauling from pits in East Middlebury and Hinesburg. Forlenza also noted the board’s work on improving the town garage and beginning to work on a town-wide dog ordinance.
Forlenza said he hopes voters elect him to another term so he can continue the work he started.
“I have one year under my belt, and I’ve learned a considerable amount which will make me more effective in a new term,” he said. “I bring public policy experience ranging from primarily health care to taxes.”
Forlenza also serves on the board of the Mountain Health Clinic in Bristol, and is the chair of the Addison County Democratic Committee.
“I look forward to serving the citizens of Lincoln,” he said.
Isham has owned property in Lincoln since 1984 and lived in the town since 2006. He is retired and formerly worked in a variety of jobs at companies such as General Electric, General Dynamics and small businesses he has run.
Isham has served on the selectboard for three and a half years. He said he mulled stepping down from the board, but ultimately decided there was more work to be done.
“I was hoping not to go another year, but I need another year to get a few things accomplished,” he said.
Isham said the biggest challenge the selectboard faces is drafting a budget that doesn’t burden taxpayers, while preserving town services.
“The biggest problem is the tax system because we don’t have anything but a residential tax base,” Isham said. “Throughout Vermont regular taxpayers are stressed with property taxes, education taxes, new taxes that have been put on.”
Isham said keeping taxes down is difficult because the selectboard has no control over the education tax rate. He said he hopes town residents give him the opportunity to continue the work he has done.
“I appreciate the support I’ve had from the town the last three years, making the changes to improve things,” Isham said. “It ruffles a few feathers, but I’ve done my best not to overtax the residents. I try to let them get their money’s worth for what they’re paying.”
Will Sipsey has lived in Lincoln for 28 years and works as an information technology consultant. In the last decade, Sipsey served six years on the selectboard. He also serves as the moderator of the town and school meetings, is a member of the Lincoln zoning board, and serves on the Addison County Regional Transportation Advisory Committee.
Sipsey said the two most important issues facing Lincoln are drafting a plan to renovate or replace the town office, and developing a proactive strategy to limit storm water erosion of its roads.
Sipsey noted a recent lawsuit by the Conservation Law Foundation against the state to enforce Environmental Protection Agency regulations on phosphorus in Lake Champlain.
“One of the major contributors of phosphorus into the lake is back road erosion,” Sipsey said. “It’s particularly bad in mountain towns because of the inclines.”
Sipsey said when he was on the selectboard the body applied for state and federal grants specifically aimed at limiting storm water erosion.
“I’m concerned we may not be moving quickly enough to address roads and road surfaces,” Sipsey said. “With the Conservation Law Foundation suit, that’s focused Gov. Shumlin and the Legislature on Lake Champlain.”
Sipsey said that if elected he will use the opportunity to lobby the Legislature to put funding aside for erosion improvement projects.
Sipsey described the condition of the town office as inadequate and said the structure should be renovated or replaced.
“It’s a stick frame building built in the 1970s. The insulation isn’t very good and it’s small,” Sipsey said. “It was originally for the town clerk and part-time treasurer; now there’s 4-5 people working there.”
Sipsey said he is worried the selectboard is not being proactive enough to develop a solution.
“It seems to me like the can keeps getting kicked down the road for coming up with a plan for renovating the town office and putting it in front of the public.”
Sipsey said he was originally not planning to run for the selectboard again, citing the enormous time commitment. But friends and neighbors told him he should run.
“I was encouraged by people who said it would work well for the town,” he said. “I see a really strong and positive dynamic going on with the members, and I think there’s an opportunity to move things in a positive direction for the town.”

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