Lincoln to decide two contests on Town Meeting Day
LINCOLN — When they come to Burnham Hall on Town Meeting Day, March 7, Lincoln residents will see familiar faces running unopposed for town clerk, town treasurer and selectboard.
But when it comes to the town moderator and second constable positions, voters will need to make a choice.
Alan Kamman is challenging Will Sipsey in a race for town and school meeting moderator. Matthew Collins is again challenging Mark Truax in a race for second constable.
Kamman, 54, describes himself as a “relative newbie” to Lincoln, having lived there only for “close to 25 years.” For 24 of those years, Kamman has volunteered with the Lincoln Fire Department and has served as that organization’s secretary and president. He’s also served on the board of the Lincoln Community School and has been a guidance counselor at Mount Abraham Union High School since 1999.
“I have always had an interest in being the moderator and thought that the only way to get there is to place my name on the ballot,” said Kamman, who credits his recent hike of the entire Appalachian Trail as part of what’s emboldened him to throw his hat in the ring for the moderator position.
Kamman feels that what’s important to the position is to “be impartial, objective and organized, and to add an element of humor while keeping a good handle on the proceedings.”
Sipsey, 59, started as Lincoln’s moderator in 2012 and became moderator for the Vermont League of Cities and Towns in 2016. He’s been on the Lincoln selectboard since 2013 and served on the zoning board of adjustment for over a decade. Sipsey came to Lincoln in 1986 and is an Information Technology manager for the Vermont Department of Labor.
Sipsey said other townsfolk encouraged him to run for town office “based on my experience in town government, successfully tackling controversial issues by working toward consensus.”
What’s key to successfully moderating a meeting, said Sipsey, “is understanding the Rules of Order and tempering application of those rules in a way that facilitates the democratic process.”
Sipsey is a strong believer in the importance of local government and in town meeting as a democratic institution.
“Town meeting is the closest thing there is to actual democracy in the world,” Sipsey said. “Many people are of the opinion that we live in a democracy, and we actually don’t. We live in a republic with representative democratic element.
“The town meeting tradition in New England is the closest thing to true democracy where everyone who wishes to participate has equal opportunity to speak and equal opportunity to vote. It’s a very sacred tradition.”
Second constable candidate Matthew Collins, 49, has been a police officer for 20 years, 17 of those at the University of Vermont, where he’s currently employed.
“I’ve lived in Lincoln for 14 years and believe it’s important to give back to the community,” said Collins.
Being a police officer, Collins said he would bring to the Lincoln second constable position “a full understanding of the laws in Vermont” and the kinds of ongoing trainings that come with being in law enforcement.
Current second constable Mark Truax did not respond to the Independent’s inquiries.
The Vermont League of Cities and Towns describes a Vermont constable as a law enforcement officer who has “authority to arrest, and has powers of search and seizure within the town.” Constables may also “destroy unlicensed dogs, kill injured deer … serve as a district court officer, (and) remove disorderly persons from town meeting.”
Although Vermont law requires training “for a part-time law enforcement officer,” towns can vote on how that criteria applies to the elected constable position.
“We’re kind of like first responders in a town,” said Collins. “We’ll go and we’ll assist in an emergency.”
Reporter Gaen Murphree is reached at [email protected].
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