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Rakowski joins Huizenga, Hawley on city council

SUSAN RAKOWSKI

VERGENNES — Former Addison Northwest School District Board Chair Susan Rakowski was the top vote getter in Tuesday’s five-way contest for three seats on the Vergennes City Council.
Two incumbents also retained their seats, but a multi-term councilor fell short in his re-election bid.
Joining Rakowski on the council were incumbents Ian Huizenga — the chef-owner of Bar Antidote and Hired Hand Brewery — and former longtime city manager Mel Hawley. Both had first won their seats in September special elections following this past summer’s mass council resignations.
Finishing fourth and losing his council seat was longtime Councilor Lowell Bertrand, who also briefly served as deputy mayor this past summer. Construction engineer Raymond Paul, running for the second time, rounded out the field.
The vote tally in Australian balloting was Rakowski, 387; Huizenga, 378; Hawley, 346; Bertrand, 293; and Paul, 130.
Vergennes also has a new mayor as of Tuesday, as former Councilor and City Manager Matt Chabot withstood a write-in challenge from incumbent Mayor Lynn Donnelly, 441-96.
Rakowski, a first-time council candidate, was grateful for the residents who backed her with their votes, letters to the Independent, and posts on social media.
“I appreciate the support, and I’ll work hard to earn their continued support,” Rakowski said.
She campaigned with her own social media posts and a mailing, but said her track record in the community, particularly her work on the school board, might have helped her most on Tuesday.
“I worked very hard in that position, and I’d like to think people recognized that I would continue to work hard for them,” Rakowski said.
She said the council has been moving in a more positive direction, and feels she can contribute to that momentum.
“I’d like to get to work,” Rakowski said. “Let’s get back to some of the issues that have been put on the back burner.”
Huizenga was also thankful for his strong support.
“I am just humbled that the city had the faith in me to be their alderman again,” Huizenga said. “I very much look forward to working with the new group.”
Hawley thanked voters and said he would continue to concentrate on straightening out the city’s accounting woes.
“I appreciate their support, and look forward to working with our new city manager,” Hawley said. “I look forward to working on the budget. That’s going to be coming up soon. Obviously, I continue to be concerned about the city’s finances, and that will be my focus.”
Bertrand was grateful to city residents for their backing over the years.
“I would like to thank the citizens of Vergennes for allowing me the honor of representing them,” he said. “And I wish the new council well moving forward.”
Paul added to the well wishes.  
“First, I’d like to congratulate Ian, Mel and Sue on their win. Second, I’d like to thank the voters who chose me as their candidate, I’m very appreciative of that,” Paul said. “I will continue my involvement in the successfulness of our great city of Vergennes.”

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