Familiar faces win Vergennes City Council seats

VERGENNES — Former Vergennes mayor and alderman Michael Daniels and incumbent city council members Renny Perry and Lynn Donnelly on Tuesday were the winners in a five-way race for three seats on the Vergennes city council.
Daniels, who served six years as mayor before stepping down in March 2013, earned 345 votes to lead the race. Perry, a former Vergennes city manager and New Hampshire city official, finished next with 295 votes, while Donnelly, who was appointed a year ago, came in third with 277.
The result ended a nine-year run on the city council for Clara “Ziggy” Comeau, a real estate broker and former city zoning board member who was first appointed to the council in 2005. Comeau polled 177 votes, while Peter Garon, who served a two-year term on the council between 2011 and 2013, but lost his re-election bid a year ago, earned 144 votes.
Daniels retired in December from his job with the Vermont Department of Buildings and Grounds and said he now felt he would have more time to spend serving on the council.
Daniels, who also served on the city council earlier this past decade, said he believes incumbent Mayor Bill Benton is doing a good job and does not plan on challenging for that post again when Benton’s term expires next year.
Perry, a former mayor and city manager in the Granite State, said he has already been scaling back his personnel work for the Vermont court system, will retire in August and will be able to devote more energy to city issues.
Donnelly, a real estate broker and former Panton selectwoman, was appointed to the city council in April to fill a vacancy created when Benton, then on the council, was elected mayor in March 2013. Donnelly told council members when she was interviewed last year that she intended to seek election this year.
One other race was contested: Incumbent Vergennes Union High School director Chris Cousineau turned back a write-in challenge from former Addison Northeast Supervisory Union business manager Greg Burdick, 280-126.
Winning without opposition were incumbent Vergennes Union Elementary School board director Tara Brooks, lister Karen Quigley and grand juror Michelle Eastman. Patricia Ganson was on the ballot for the Vergennes-Panton Water District board, where she will be joined by successful write-in candidate Jeffrey Fritz.
All charitable contributions earned support. Aldermen will craft the city’s 2014-2015 budget in June.
Voters in Panton, Waltham and Vergennes backed the $4.26 million VUES spending plan, 357-298, in commingled balloting. That proposed budget called for an increase of about $178,000, or 4.34 percent.
Voters also backed $15,000 for the annual VUES capital improvement fund request, $10,000 less than a year ago.
Vergennes residents voted against the proposed $9.73 million Vergennes Union High School budget, 248-227. Overall, that budget lost in the five Addison Northwest Supervisory Union towns, 961-747.
A separate measure to start a $50,000 capital investment fund for VUHS won 274-198 approval in Vergennes, but failed overall by six votes, 902-896.

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