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Meet the Lincoln selectboard candidates

LINCOLN — Lincoln’s Town Meeting Day ballot will feature a four-way race to fill an open seat on the town’s selectboard. Incumbent Oakley Smith announced he won’t seek another two-year term on the board. 

Joe Martell, Dennis Filion, Conor McDonough and Jacob Peirce are the four residents competing for the open seat. 

The Independent posed four questions to the candidates to learn more about their candidacy, and their responses are printed below.  

1. Please provide a brief bio, including any experience in civil service.

Martell: I’ve been here in Lincoln all my life, 95% of my life. I’ve been a bus driver, that’s what I’ve been doing most of life. I’ve been a bus driver in Bristol, Addison, Lincoln, Hinesburg. There aren’t too many places I haven’t driven, and I’m still driving right here in Lincoln. 

Filion: I retired a few years ago, from a 33-year career, as a science teacher at Winooski High School. I coached high school sports for over 40 years and refereed high school soccer for over 45 years. Five years ago, my wife of over 45 years, Jonnie, and I moved back to the area, as I grew up in Bristol. I currently am a part-time handyman in the area. 

McDonough: My name is Conor McDonough, I am 28 years old, was born and raised in the town of Lincoln, and have moved back recently after working for Michigan State University for six years to be closer to my family. I have a brother, sister in-law, and two nieces in town as well as my parents, living in a community I love and enjoy.

Peirce: I was born in Danvers, Mass., but then moved to Lincoln when I was just under two-years-old. I attended Lincoln elementary and graduated from Mt. Abraham. I attended the University of Maine at Machias and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. I worked as a backcountry researcher in Wood Tikchik State Park in Alaska and then as an instructor at Newfound Harbor Marine Institute on Big Pine Key in Florida. I moved back to Vermont and began working as a paraprofessional at Lincoln elementary school. I moved on to Lincoln Applied Geology as an environmental scientist and have been an environmental scientist for roughly 25 years. I have served in the Lincoln Volunteer Fire Department since 1997, minus approximately seven years of travel out of state. I am an active member of the LVFD currently. 

2. What motivated you to run for the Lincoln selectboard?

Filion: Politics has been an interest for me for many years, but until recently I have not had the time to get involved. The science in me likes to problem solve, and I have the life experiences, temperament and respectfulness to contribute positively to the community in dealing with selectboard issues. 

McDonough: I am motivated by my love for community involvement to run for selectboard and remember as a kid the town struggled to fill all the positions on the board and figured this would be a good way for me to give back to a place I hold dear. We have seen members like Bill Finger serve the town dutifully for many years and I think it is time a younger generation stepped to the plate to offer assistance as well. I don’t say that as in we should replace anyone or “out with the old in with the new,” but I think it’s important for our younger generations of citizens to get involved and learn from those who have been here so we can continue to promote a healthy and happy town of Lincoln. 

Peirce: I am running to continue serving the community of Lincoln in the capacity of selectman. 

Martell: I want to see a change in this town.  

3. What do you think are the most pressing issues Lincoln is currently facing?

McDonough: The biggest issue I see in our town is we grow amazing young individuals in our community, but when they wish to be here as long-term residents, they struggle to afford to stay in the town they love and helped shape them. I think exploring options to bring affordable housing to Lincoln would be a great help to our town. 

Peirce: I think taxes are a big issue and on the same hand would support higher wages for all staff at our local schools. I would not like to see Lincoln school closed. High wages and affordable housing are important but the money has to come from somewhere. 

Martell: We need a road crew in this town. That’s what the most important thing is right now, getting a road crew and getting our road crew back in town. 

Filion: I want to be clear that I am running for this position with no personal agenda. I look forward to contributing to the normal selectboard processes, budget, coordinating with other boards and being a voice in whatever capacity a selectboard member has in the new school district formation. I  especially look forward to working to allocate ARPA funds our community has available to us. I want to make sure these funds benefit as many of the community members as possible. 

4. If elected, how would you help the town navigate those issues?

Peirce: I am interested in taking those issues on and working through them as a community. There are no easy answers for these issues as I see it, but we need to talk about them and see if we, as pragmatic Vermonters, can develop innovative solutions. 

Martell: I’d be working on trying to get the (road crew) problem solved, trying to get a road crew back in here. 

Filion: I have always prided myself as being fair. Coaching, teaching and refereeing have given me experiences to develop this attribute. I will approach issues scientifically, respectfully, fairly and with a level of common sense. I hope the citizens of Lincoln will give me an opportunity to work for them. 

McDonough: If elected, I will help the town navigate this by learning more completely the steps that have already been taken to address this, as I know we have sent out surveys and it has been a topic in many boards’ discussion. With that information in hand I would attempt to add whatever insight I can. I think it would be naïve of me to say I am going to come in and “fix” big issues in the town. I think as a newer member to the board my job initially will be to learn from what we have done and those who have done it and provide perhaps a new outlook. 

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