Thursday May 9, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

SHAFTSBURY -- Mitchell Race was appointed to the Select Board Monday, filling a seat left vacant by the resignation of Billy Obenauer, who left the board April 15.

The term expires in 2015; however, the seat will be up for grabs again in March 2014.

Obenauer said he resigned because he will likely be starting a graduate school program at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, which will make attending the board’s meetings difficult. According to the board’s minutes, Obenauer recommended the board appoint Race to his seat.

"I think we took some big strides to ensuring the openness of local government and developing some processes people understood," Obenauer said.

Obenauer said he feels communication between the board, Development Review Board, and the public has been improved to where the public feels as though it is being heard and treated fairly. He said other procedures and processes have been improved during his time by the board and while not everything is perfect it has come a long way.

He said he is also happy to see the framework in place for the town’s website to be managed professionally. He said this should increase openness and take some pressure off of town employees.

Obenauer said the opportunity presented to him by RPI was too good to pass up but he felt committing to it would mean he could not serve the board and town as well as he should so he discussed the matter with many people and reached a decision

"I would like to thank Billy for his work," said Race.


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"He came on when there was a need and filled that need."

Race ran for a seat on the board this year but was defeated by Kenneth Harrington. Race said the approach he would like to take is one that preserves what Shaftsbury has now and focuses less on development. He said the current town plan which is scheduled for its five-year update to be complete this year was geared towards anticipated development which the town has not seen in the past decade.

Race was appointed to the DRB this year and while state statutes do not prohibit him serving on both he is considering the possibility of stepping down from the DRB. He said he wishes to meet with the DRB Chairwoman Megan Donckers first to avoid disruption. He said he may stay on but is leaning toward leaving the DRB.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.