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Two candidates vying for Bristol selectboard seat

BRISTOL — In the only contested race for Bristol selectboard this year Ian Albinson is challenging incumbent Ted Lylis for a three-year seat.
On Town Meeting Day, March 5, Bristol residents will choose between two candidates who both are non-native but have roots in Bristol.
Lylis, who has lived in Bristol for more than 40 years, was first elected to the selectboard in 2016.
Rather than establishing detailed policy positions for making Bristol a more affordable and pleasant place to live, he has preferred to stay flexible.
“I deal with things as they come up,” he told the Independent. “If there’s something we don’t need to afford, I’ll vote against it.”
Early on in his term Lylis was the only one on the five-member board who had no connection to the Bristol Fire Department.
“So people called me ‘four-to-one,’” he said, laughing. When occasionally his voting — across a wide range of issues — has born out the moniker, people have enjoyed giving Lylis a hard time about it, he added.
One of the highlights of serving on the board has been standing up for natural gas, he said.
“Natural gas is the way to go. At least give people the option. Even if you hate Vermont Gas, you might change your mind one day. But you can’t sign up for it if there’s no option.”
He has been accosted nearly every day by people urging him to “make natural gas happen,” he said.
A carpenter by trade, Lylis moved to Bristol in 1977 and built his own house on Lower Notch Road. Since then, he’s built a generous and impressive resume of more than 60 community projects and board positions with such local organizations as the Bristol Rescue Squad, Holley Hall, the Bristol Historical Society, Lawrence Memorial Library and the Bristol 4th of July Committee.
“I would like this list to show how dedicated I have been in my mission to participate and improve our town, and why I am running for another term as selectboard member,” he wrote on various social media platforms this week.
In another post he wrote, “If you also want me to continue to serve you as a selectboard member I will certainly appreciate your vote. If not, please at least vote! It is the only franchise that we all have to effect change, or keep things the same, or anywhere in between, depending on your desires and expectations. There is room for all of us.”
THE CHALLENGER
Ian Albinson has lived in Bristol for more than 10 years. He runs a TV and film design business with his wife, Raedia, and they have a two-year-old son, Max.
Albinson is also executive director of Bristol CORE, a nonprofit organization that promotes the downtown economy and organizes community events. In that role since 2015, Albinson has made sure that Pocock continues to rock, the Chocolate Walk remains sweet and the Lumen Celebration shines as brightly as ever.
He also chairs the Bristol Energy Committee and serves on the Community Center Steering Committee.
Albinson said he decided to run for the selectboard to bring a perspective he feels is missing from the board.
“There’s nothing wrong with the current board, but I don’t feel represented on it, and I think a lot of other people feel the same way,” he told the Independent.
Key issues for Albinson include transparency and due process on important town decisions. He cites the selectboard’s controversial purchase agreement with Vermont Gas, which was signed last July, as a factor in his decision to run for the board.
Though Albinson has been an outspoken critic of the process that led to that agreement, he doesn’t consider himself a natural gas opponent.
“I’m neither for nor against it,” he said. “I know it would help a lot of people economically, though it would only be available to about half the town.”
What he is in favor of, he said, is due process.
“There should have been more engagement with the community. It’s not a decision that should be left up to just five people on a board.”
Albinson has noted on several occasions that during its deliberations the Bristol selectboard neglected to consult with the town’s energy committee or its planning commission.
At the same time, he sympathizes with the board’s struggles to engage the community.
“I’ve attended selectboard meetings for two and a half years,” he said. “I feel their frustration. It’s hard to get people involved.”
He believes his experience collaborating with a wide variety of organizations will translate well to selectboard work, especially when it comes to bridging divides in the community.
If elected, Albinson will focus on improving zoning regulations and expanding the downtown water district to encourage new businesses, he said. He would also like to ensure that town facilities are as energy-efficient as possible.
Above all, he is community-focused.
“There is a great mix of people in this town with a lot of different interests. The question is: How do you harness all of that for the good of the town?”
Reach Christopher Ross at christopherr@addisonindependent.com.

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