14 seek 4 city council seats
VERGENNES — The race to fill four vacant seats on the Vergennes City Council in a Sept. 22 special election is set: 14 residents turned in papers to be on the ballot to challenge for the open slots created by four recent resignations.
Several of those running are well known and have governing experience. Four who filed are seeking both a term that expires in March 2021 and a term that will end in March 2022. A candidate who wins both seats would have to resign one of them, leaving the council to make an appointment to fill the other slot.
Former longtime city manager Mel Hawley, former mayor and multi-term councilor Mike Daniels, former multi-term councilor Clara “Ziggy” Comeau, former deputy mayor Randy Ouellette, and former alderman David Small are among those voters will be able to chose either in person on Sept. 22 or beforehand by mail.
Others on the ballot include restaurateurs Richard “Dickie” Austin and Ian Huizenga. Austin is a partner in the Vergennes Restaurant Group (which includes Black Sheep Bistro, Park Squeeze and the Bearded Frog in Shelburne) and Huizenga is the head chef and brewer of Vergennes eateries Hired Hand and Bar Antidote.
Others who had filed on or before midweek last week were former Panton lister Beverly Biello and Collins Aerospace employees 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.
Three more candidates joined the fray either late last week or on Monday: Raymond Henry Paul, a project engineer with Engineers Construction Inc.; Rainwalker Winterpainter, who this past year worked in maintenance and substitute taught for the Addison Northwest School District; and Julian Cesner, who is a counselor at a community mental health agency.
Biello, Comeau, Austin, Ouellette, and Murray Killon are seeking terms that would expire in March 2022.
Huizenga, Hawley, Daniels, Winterpainter and Small are on the ballot for terms that would expire this coming March.
Djordjevic, Bassett, Cesner and Paul are seeking both terms and would have to step down from one if voted in for both.
The need for the special election arose after Mayor Jeff Fritz resigned at the July 16 city council meeting, making it official on July 26. On July 19 Bill Benton stepped down, and Councilors Mark Koenig and Tara Brooks resigned at about the same time as Fritz on the afternoon of July 26. The resignations left the seven-member body without a quorum.
City Clerk Britney Aube noted seats on the council aren’t the only offices on the Sept. 22 ballot. Karen Quigley signed on to run unopposed for a term on the board of listers that will expire in March 2023. But Aube said an opening on the board of auditors failed to draw any interest.
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