BENNINGTON — The race for three open seats on the Select Board is heating up, with four candidates having made their bid official and one incumbent saying he will seek another term.
Two of those running are keeping their options open for the time being by signing up for both a three-year and a one-year seat on the board.
They are former state Rep. Chris Bates, who did not seek another term in the Vermont House from Bennington, 2-1 District, and Tina Cook, a digital marketing specialist and former student and staff member at Southern Vermont College.
Being on a ballot for two positions is possible under state law. Although unlikely, if a candidate happened to win both positions they would have to choose.
Also signed up for the race are Tom Haley, the Bennington County Democratic Committee chairman, and Mike Bethel, one of those spearheading another vote this year on whether Bennington should switch to a mayoral form of government.
Haley is seeking a one-year seat and Bethel is vying for one of the three-year board seat.
The mayor question was placed on the Bennington ballot for the March annual election through a citizen petition drive.
Town Clerk Cassandra Barbeau said the law allows candidates to seek two different board seats at once. However, she said that those candidates could also withdraw their name from one of the races at any time up to two days after the Jan. 25 deadline for signing up to run.
In a normal year, she said, it would be more difficult to seek two different seats since it would require collecting voter signatures for each race. But the requirement to gather nomination signatures was waived because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Board member Bruce Lee-Clark, who is not on the ballot this year, said he would like to see the provision allowing a dual candidacy changed. “I think you should have to choose one or the other,” he said.
Otherwise, he said, if someone does unexpectedly win two seats they would have to decline one, and that would leave an opening the Select Board would have to deal with — through an appointment, calling a special election, or by leaving the seat open until the next election.
Incumbent board member Jim Carroll said recently he will be running again. Chairman Donald Campbell said he is not ready to make an announcement but will soon.
There also is an opening on the board this year because of the death in July of Bill Scully.