Many residents sign up for city council vacancies

VERGENNES — The race to fill four vacant seats on the Vergennes City Council will have a pretty big field — and there is time for more candidates to enter the contest.
As of midday on Wednesday 11 residents had turned in papers announcing their intention to be on the ballot for the Sept. 22 special election to fill the four seats on the council opened by the recent spate of resignations.
Most of those running are well-known and many have governing experience.
Former longtime city manager Mel Hawley, former mayor and multi-term councilor Mike Daniels, and former multi-term councilor Clare “Ziggy” Comeau are among the candidates who by last Thursday had already filed paperwork. Since then, two more former aldermen turned in their “Consent of Candidate” paperwork: Randy Ouellette and David Small.
Others who will be on the ballot are restaurateurs Richard “Dickie” Austin and Ian Huizenga. Austin is a partner in the Vergennes Restaurant Group (which includes Black Sheep Bistro, Park Squeeze and Bearded Frog in Shelburne) and Huizenga is the head chef and brewer of Vergennes restaurants Hired Hand and Bar Antidote.
Former Panton lister Beverly Biello has also filed paperwork, as has Jill Murray Killon and Justin Bassett. Another entry into the race is Michel Djordjevic, who bought the Strong House Inn on West Main Street with his wife, Amy, two years ago.
The need for the special election arose after Mayor Jeff Fritz resigned at the July 16 city council meeting, and within the next 11 days three city council members also resigned, leaving the seven-member body without a quorum.
Petitions for office may be picked up at Vergennes City Hall or downloaded from
City Clerk Britney Aube reminds voters that city council seats aren’t the only offices on the Sept. 22 ballot. Vergennes voters will select a new auditor and a new lister — if anyone applies for those positions. On Wednesday the clerk hadn’t seen any interest. 
Hawley served as city manager for about three decades before retiring two years ago. He filed for one of two terms that will expire this coming March. 
Daniels served three terms as mayor more than a decade ago, returned to the council several years ago, and then won a close election to become mayor in 2017. He then resigned his position in early 2018. He also filed for a term that would expire in March 2021.
Comeau served a number of terms on the council earlier this millennium and has also held appointed positions in city government. She and Biello both filed for terms that would expire in March 2022. 
Among the others, those filing for the term ending in 2021 were Djordjevic, Huizenga, Small and Bassett. Those filing for a council seat ending in 2022 were Austin, Ouellette and Murray Killon.

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