POWNAL — A special election next week will feature a two-way race for a vacant Select Board seat.
John Bushee, Jr. and Suzanne Caraman both returned nomination papers by Monday's deadline, according to Town Clerk Karen Burrington.
Voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, May 24, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Pownal Center Firehouse.
Bushee and Caraman will vie for the remaining two years of a three-year term left vacant when member Raymond "R.J." Joly resigned last month. Bushee sought a one-year term on the Select Board in March, but was defeated by incumbent Jason Olansky. Caraman is the former delinquent tax collector.
State statute allows a Select Board to appoint someone to serve. But board members, noting that multiple residents had expressed interest, had said they would prefer voters make a decision.
Select Board Chairman Ron Bisson expressed similar sentiments when reached for comment on Tuesday. Bisson acknowledged the town is amidst important discussions, such as whether or not a town administrator or manager should be hired or the new location of town offices. But he said he sees himself "as a representative of the people" and ultimately wants residents to make those decisions. He said it's important for any new member to talk to residents to find out how they think the town should be run.
"I think right now we have a pretty good balance [of people on the board]," Bisson said. "We have people that are a little more ambitious and people who are a little more laid-back ... I'm hoping we get another member who brings something positive. I don't care if I agree with them or not. At least then, you got the input and a good cross-section of the town."
Bisson said Pownal is a small town that doesn't have a lot of money and residents "are taxed right up to the max." He said that's why he wanted more information on two options being considered for town offices — a proposed new building, the cost of which Town Office Committee officials are trying to reduce, and a renovation of the Roost building. Bisson said that's why he wanted a feasibility study done on the latter, a Route 7 commercial property currently up for sale.
"Is [a renovation] going to cost a million, half a million or less? Give us some prices so we can let people know and find out what they think about it," Bisson said.
Residents must be registered to vote in order to cast ballots, Burrington said. The last day to register before the election is Wednesday at 5 p.m. Absentee ballots are available at the Town Clerk's office and must be returned by May 23.
Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979