Selectboard race shapes up in Bristol

BRISTOL — The one contested race on the Bristol ballot this Town Meeting Day will be for a three-year seat on the town selectboard.
Incumbent Brian Fox, the current selectboard chair, is running for re-election against challengers Joshua Clark and Ted Lylis.
The other selectboard seat up for election on March 1 is the two-year seat currently held by Sharon Compagna. Compagna, who has held the seat since 2007, chose not to run. Well-known Bristol resident Peter Coffey, who has served in leadership positions with the local fire department among many other roles, is the only candidate on the ballot for this position.
There is also a full slate of candidates for seats on the local and Mount Abraham school boards, though none are contested (see related story).
Fox, 46, won his seat on the selectboard in 2013, after having served on the Mount Abraham Union High School board for five years. A lifelong resident of Bristol and the five-town area, Fox worked for the Bristol Police Department for a number of years and currently works as a police officer for the town of Shelburne.
In addition to serving on the MAUHS board and selectboard, Fox has been an active volunteer in the community, serving on the Bristol Rescue Squad for close to 25 years, 17 of those as president. He’s also volunteered with the town’s youth, coaching baseball, soccer and basketball and being a Cub Scout leader.
“I’ve lived here pretty much my whole life, graduated from Mount Abe,” said Fox. “I’d like this to be a place where my kids want to stay and can afford to live and try to keep it the same kind of tight-knit community that it is now.”
Fox said he is concerned about keeping Bristol affordable for all residents and making it attractive to younger families. Part of that is keeping taxes affordable, growing the grand list to build a wider tax base and making sure there’s affordable housing. He said the new business park being planned behind the new fire station will be an important step toward providing jobs for Bristol residents and attracting desirable businesses.
Looking ahead, he said, it also will be important for the town to address the aging water infrastructure within the village district, where aging pipes have led to an increasing number of breaks and repairs over recent years.
Fox brings the experience of having worked on the selectboard the past three years. He tallied the board’s role in closing the landfill and building the new fire station as two of the important projects he has been a part of. He also pointed to ways the selectboard worked with everything from local volunteer committees to state agencies on such projects as repairing the South Street and Route 116 South bridges, the redesign of the downtown intersection, putting lights through the center of the downtown park, building the new playground, and the improvements to Prince Lane. Fox stressed the importance of the volunteer committees in making many of these projects happen, hand in hand with selectboard leadership.
Challenging Fox for his three-year seat is Ted Lylis, 70. While the selectboard seat would be Lylis’s first elected position in Bristol, he has served in volunteer and appointed positions since first moving to Bristol in the late 1970s. Lylis has been and continues to be a key organizer of the Fourth of July parade. He was a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals for 12 years and served on the Lawrence Library board of directors. Lylis is active in the Bristol Historical Society, the Sons of the American Legion, the Five Town GGG Club and the Bristol Recreation Club.
He has served on the Allocations Committee for the United Way of Addison County and the committee to house the Historical Society in Howden Hall, has volunteered on renovations to Holley Hall and the Bristol Coach House, and has been a member of the Bristol Rescue Squad.
A builder and carpenter by trade, Lylis said he is a man who likes to get things done and brings an ethic of service that’s been important to him his whole life.
“I’m a longtime resident and a longtime business owner here in town,” said Lylis. “I intend to use these experiences to try to bring something good to the table that will improve the life of people who live here. I’ve only ever lived in small towns, towns the size of Bristol or smaller. And my folks set a very good example for us kids by taking the attitude that ‘if you’re not going to do it it’s not going to get done.’”
“By nature I am conservative with spending,” Lylis continued. “However, I do have some really liberal bents that don’t fit the mold. And I want to bring this sort of thing to the table because I believe that my experience, my feelings about the town, the work that I’ve done and so on, I have something to contribute, something positive to contribute, and I’d like to do it. I’ve never held an elected position, and I just felt that now is the time.”
Lylis said that he had been urged to run for the three-year seat by a number of supporters in the community.
Among the issues most important to Lylis is for the town to get control of taxes and to provide a stable tax base. He said that in attracting businesses to the soon-to-be-built business park, it was important to look for businesses with a commitment to the town.
“I don’t want the town to be offering this business park carte blanche: ‘Oh, let’s come in. Let’s move into this new building. Oops! All of a sudden we’re either going under or we’re gong to move to Williston,’” Lylis said. “I want them to have some skin in the game.”
He said it was important to bring more jobs to town so that people could go to work without having to leave town and without having the expense of commuting.
“There just doesn’t seem to be enough in the way of employment in town,” said Lylis. “I want to get back to what Bristol was when it was a manufacturing center.”
Like Fox, Lylis is concerned that Bristol “is going to become difficult to live in” if taxes continue to advance at current rates.
However, Lylis stressed that his interest in being on the selectboard wasn’t to pursue a particular agenda but instead comes from a long commitment to the town and a desire to work for its benefit.
The third selectboard candidate, Joshua Clark, could not be reached for comment despite multiple attempts.
Voting for the Bristol selectboard will take place on Tuesday, March 1, at Howden Hall.
Reporter Gaen Murphree is at [email protected].

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