Middlebury-area races shape up for Town Meeting Day
ADDISON COUNTY — Town Meeting Day will feature races for selectboard spots in Middlebury, Salisbury, Ripton and Weybridge, while Bridport and Ripton will decide competitions for their respective seats on a new, unified district school board that would represent all Middlebury-area schools.
Monday was the deadline for candidates for local offices to submit their nomination papers with their respective town clerks in order to get on the March 1 Town Meeting Day ballot. Folks can still jump into races through write-in campaigns.
The Addison Independent on Tuesday checked on candidate filings from town clerks in the Addison Central Supervisory Union communities of Bridport, Cornwall, Middlebury, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge. Here is a town-by-town summary of how the ballots will look in those seven towns:
Incumbent selectboard Vice Chairman Nick Artim, incumbent Selectman Gary Baker, former Selectman Victor Nuovo, Public Works Committee member Heather Seeley and resident Richard Terk will all compete in a runoff for three available three-year terms on the selectboard.
The Independent earlier this month reported that selectboard Chairman Dean George would not seek re-election after two decades on the board. That article featured brief interviews with three of the five candidates: Nuovo, Baker and Terk. Artim and Seeley were contacted early this week to share some of their priorities for the next three years, if they are elected.
Artim is capping his sixth year on the selectboard; he was appointed to replace former Selectman Bill Perkins, who moved out of town.
Artim initially envisioned serving on the board for two terms, but said he’s motivated to seek another in recognition of some of the weighty issues facing Middlebury during the next three years. He said they include providing stewardship during the replacement of the town’s two downtown rail bridges, building the community’s economic base, taking care of the town’s infrastructure, strengthening public transportation, and making sure town government works well for its citizens.
Middlebury, he said, is blessed with exceptional municipal employees who have been responsive to citizens’ concerns. Artim believes it will be important for the town to maintain the services it provides at a price that residents can afford.
To that end, Artim said the town should take steps to boost its grand list. That means making Middlebury a prime spot for entrepreneurs. Beefing up telecommunications would be an example of the town could do to make itself more attractive to businesspeople.
“We’re competing against a lot of different places (for businesses),” Artim said. “We have to have a good communications network to compete with the other places out there.”
Middlebury should also do more to support “good quality, mid-level” housing in town to accommodate new generations of workers, according to Artim. Otherwise, young professionals will simply move to Burlington or Rutland, where there is more variety of jobs and housing, he said.
Artim has been serving on the committee charged with representing the town’s interests in the upcoming replacement of the Main Street and Merchants Row rail bridges. The project has been estimated at $40 million and could span more than three years.
“It is going to be painful,” he said of the project. He believes it will be in the town’s interest to push for work to be done as quickly as possible so those affected can move on with their lives and businesses. “It will be like surgery; it will hurt a lot, but eventually we will all feel better.”
Seeley, business manager for Seeley Earth Moving, ran unsuccessfully against George in March 2014 and offered to replace Selectman Travis Forbes when he resigned in August 2014. She has built experience working on town issues as a member of the Public Works Committee and hopes this will be the year she wins a spot on the selectboard.
Seeley cited as priorities resolving the downtown rail bridges project, developing the town-owned “economic development initiative (EDI)” property off Bakery Lane, and setting up a fund to deal with deteriorating roads, bridges and maintenance of town facilities. She would also like to keep an eye on the school governance consolidation effort in the ACSU, a transition that will be voted on by Middlebury and the six other ACSU towns on March 1.
Seeley is concerned about all ACSU schools being covered through a single budget.
“I still want to know what each school is spending individually,” she said. “We are taking a leap of faith this will all work out.”
As a member of the Public Works Committee, Seeley gets to see how Middlebury cares for its infrastructure. She thinks the town should make a better accounting of its physical assets and how to take care of those assets over time. The alternative, she noted, is having to spend large sums of money when major repairs are needed.
“I’ve been pushing for generating a list of things that need to be done, and for prioritizing (work) on that list,” she said.
Seeley would like to see new options for dealing with Middlebury’s deteriorating downtown rail bridges, such as simply replacing the two spans instead of the current tunnel concept.
“At some point, maybe there needs to be some compromise somewhere for reduced cost and construction time,” she said.
Seeley is disappointed that only one company (NexBridge) submitted a proposal to develop the EDI property into a mixed-use development with parking. The town should now focus on making the project the best that it can be, she said.
Middlebury will have no competition in filling its seven allotted slots on the new, 13-member Addison Central School District Board. The candidates are Josh Quinn, Lorraine Gonzalez Morse and Steve Orzech for the three three-year terms; Ruth Hardy and Jason Duquette-Hoffman for the two two-year terms; and John Rees and Victoria Jette for the two one-year terms.
Morse is running unopposed for re-election to the UD-3 board.
Duquette-Hoffman and Hardy have no challengers for two two-year seats on the ID-4 board, which oversees the Mary Hogan Elementary School. Another three-year term on the ID-4 panel currently has no takers.
Election petition filings in the six smaller ACSU-member communities reveal the following candidates will be on the Town Meeting Day ballots:
David Bronson and Joan Huestis will compete for a three-year term on the selectboard, while Earl Audet is unopposed for a two-year term on the panel.
Current ACSU board Chairman Rick Scott faces opposition from ACSU Charter Committee co-Chairwoman Suzanne Buck for Bridport’s one-year term on the new Addison Central School District Board.
Scott is also on the ballot for a two-year spot on the UD-3 board, which represents Middlebury Union Middle and High schools. Paul Plouffe has no challengers for a three-year term on the Bridport School Board.
There will be no contested elections in Cornwall this year. Magna Dodge, Ben Marks and Brian Kemp are unopposed for terms of three, two and one years, respectively, on the town selectboard.
Current UD-3 board Chairman Peter Conlon is unchallenged for the town’s two-year term on the new Addison Central School District Board. Sarah Kemp and Gabe Hamilton are unopposed for terms of three and two years, respectively, on the Bingham Memorial School Board.
Perry Hanson and Richard Collitt will vie for a three-year term on the Ripton selectboard.
Longtime UD-3 board member Jerry Shedd and fellow Ripton residents Perry Hanson will compete for the town’s three-year seat on the Addison Central School District Board. And Alexander and Giles Hoyler face no competition for terms of two and three years, respectively, on the Ripton School Board.
Jonathan Blake and Ramona “Pedie” O’Brien will compete for a two-year spot on the Salisbury selectboard, while Paul Vaczy is unopposed for a three-year term on that panel.
Jennifer Nuceder has no challengers for Salisbury’s one-year term on the Addison Central School District Board. Meanwhile, John Nuceder is unopposed for a three-year term on the Salisbury School Board. Write-in campaigns or appointments will be needed to fill a vacant two-year term on the Salisbury School Board and a three-year term on the UD-3 board.
There are no contested races slated for the Shoreham Town Meeting Day ballot this year.
Steven Goodrich, Will Stevens and Karen Shackett are unopposed for terms of three, one and one years, respectively, on the town selectboard.
Shoreham’s UD-3 representative, Nick Causton, is unchallenged for his town’s two-year term on the Addison Central School District Board. And Tanya Scuteri and Lance Wood are unopposed for terms of three and two years, respectively, on the Shoreham School Board.
The Weybridge ballot will be headlined by two races for the town selectboard. T. Charles Jordan, Robert L. Foster and Megan W. Sutton are vying for a three-year term on the board, while Alix O’Meara and Jordan are both seeking a one-year term. If Jordan were to win both races, he would have to choose the term he would like to serve and the selectboard would appoint a resident to serve out the other term.
Meanwhile, Daniel James is unopposed for a two-year term on the selectboard.
UD-3 board member Christopher Eaton is unopposed in his run for the town’s three-year spot on the Addison Central School District Board.
Jennifer Richmond and Justin Perdue have no challengers for terms of three and two years, respectively, on the Weybridge School Board.