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Thomas outpolls Hooper for Middlebury selectboard

ESTHER THOMAS

MIDDLEBURY — Esther Thomas on Tuesday defeated Andy Hooper, 812-633, in the race for a one-year term on the Middlebury selectboard.
Meanwhile, incumbent selectboard members Farhad Khan (1,286 tallies) and Lindsey Fuentes-George (1,281) both ran unopposed for three-year terms on the board.
It was Thomas’s first run for elective office since moving to Middlebury two years ago from Rhode Island to take a job as a residence director at Middlebury College. She’ll serve out the final year of a term vacated last year by former Selectman Victor Nuovo.
“I am speechless, over the moon and filled with gratitude,” Thomas said in a phone interview Tuesday evening.
Asked if she had any early priorities, she replied, “I hope to be open, learn and listen. That’s my agenda.”
She was pleased with her margin of victory, believing it shows voters have confidence in her ability to help govern Addison County’s shire town.
“I feel like I’m in the right place at the right time.”
Thomas, Fuentes-George, Khan and their colleagues will have no shortage of big issues to face during the coming year. They will include helping to fill empty storefronts in the downtown and guiding the community through the COVID-19 pandemic and the final pieces of a disruptive tunnel project centered on Main Street and Merchants Row.
Thomas, a single mom of two, manages a staff of 18 students and is responsible for juniors and seniors within the college residence hall system. She also oversees “Febs” — first-year students beginning their college careers during the month of February.
Altogether, Thomas works with more than 800 students within the residential setting. Housing complexes under her jurisdiction include Atwater, Voter, Painter, Forest and Chateau.
She’s a member of the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society and is on the Middlebury Natural Foods Cooperative board.
Fuentes-George and her family moved from Massachusetts to Middlebury around 10 years ago. Her husband, Kemi Fuentes-George, teaches political science at Middlebury College. Lindsey’s professional experience includes working full-time at one of the Counseling Service of Addison County’s Middlebury-based group homes for developmentally delayed adults. Her résumé also includes work at a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
Fuentes-George holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism (from Mount Holyoke College), and has always worked within the realm of human services.
She was first elected to the selectboard in 2018. She serves on the town’s Infrastructure Committee and is the selectboard representative to the Energy Committee. Fuentes-George has also been a key player in racial justice and anti-bias efforts at both the school and municipal levels.
Her priorities for the next three years include getting downtown Middlebury revitalized following the economic challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the tunnel project.
Khan emigrated to from his native India to the United States in 1991. He and his wife Amtul own and operate Middlebury’s Dollar Market, and together have three children. Khan was appointed to the Middlebury selectboard in 2017, and then won a three-year term in 2018. He’s a member of the town’s Parks & Recreation and Economic Health committees.
Khan has cited fostering economic development, keeping local infrastructure up to date, and finishing the tunnel project as big priorities for the board.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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