MANCHESTER — A member of the Manchester Planning Commission is challenging one of the region’s longest-serving public officials for a three-year term on the Manchester Selectboard.
Megan Amundson is running for the seat held by incumbent Chairman Ivan C. Beattie, who has sat on the Selectboard since 1984 and served as chair for all but a few of those 39 years.
It’s the only contested race on the Manchester ballot, according to Town Clerk Anita Sheldon. Three incumbents are unopposed: Selectboard member Jan Nolan, who is seeking a two-term term; Trustee of Public Funds Marie Ferrarin, who is running for another three-year term; and moderator W. Michael Nawrath, who is seeking another one-year term.
Beattie said the last time he was opposed in a Selectboard election was in the early 1990s.
“I think it’s great that Megan will offer a choice to the voters. It’s how the democratic system is supposed to work,” Beattie said. “I think every office should have people running for it. I know Megan through our discussions and I wish her good luck, but I intend to win the election.”
Beattie said he still believes his years of experience on the board — as a member, and as a chair who allows all sides to present their arguments and then makes a decision based on facts — has benefitted the town. He feels he still has a lot to offer his hometown.
“Sometimes incumbency is a liability, but I have a lot of historical perspective,” he said. “And I think I bring a calmness to finding solutions that’s based in experience.”
Beattie owns and operates East of Equinox Farm, a Morgan horse farm on Barnumville Road. He previously served as board chairman for TD Banknorth Vermont and First Vermont Bank, and worked for Hamilton Standard in project engineering.
Amundson was previously associate director of development at Tufts University, near Boston, where she earned a master’s degree in urban and environmental policy and planning. She also served as executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts for four years.
Asked why she’s running, Amundson said she feels her experience, and her concern about improving the town’s public safety and infrastructure — particularly for pedestrians — would make her an asset on the board.
“I think there’s a voice missing in our town government representing members of the community who want our town to be focused on things like public safety and infrastructure,” Amundson said. “Having that voice on the Selectboard seemed like an important way for the town to move forward and make the town safer.”
Amundson said her concern about pedestrian safety is not academic — she’s been hit by a car, and members of her family have seen and experienced close calls as pedestrians.
Improving sidewalks “is just a precursor to more public safety efforts so people can get around town in ways other than their car and be safe doing so,” she said. “It’s one of a suite of public safety issues the town should be investing in.”
“We chose to live in town so we could walk,” Amundson said of her family. “And we talk to a lot of friends and neighbors and community members who want to do the same thing, and some who have no choice for a variety of reasons. And a lot of people don’t feel safe.”
At a recent Selectboard meeting, Amundson raised concerns about the proposed redesign of long-awaited improvements to the town parking lot behind Walgreens Pharmacy, between Main Street and Memorial Avenue. She called the design “a little bit of a deathtrap” — a characterization some disagreed with strongly — and asked that it go back to the drawing board. Beattie said sidewalks that are already planned would provide safe access to over half of the proposed parking lot spaces, and noted the expense at a time when the town is facing sharp increases in expenses.
Elsewhere in the Northshire, at least two other towns have contested races: Arlington, where two school board incumbents are facing challengers, and Danby, where three elected positions have multiple candidates.
In Arlington, incumbent Matt Bykowski is being challenged by Terry Wilcox Sweet for election to a three-year term on the Arlington School Board. Dan Wood, also an incumbent, is facing Alexander Burke for election to a two-year term.
Arlington Select Board incumbents Dan Harvey and Todd Wilkins are unopposed for two- and three-year terms, respectively.
In Danby, Select Board members Thomas Fuller Jr. and Steve Haines are both unopposed. But three other races have multiple candidates.
Byron Battease and Lonna Burden are both running for an open seat for auditor. Shelley L. Taylor and incumbent James Viscusi are both candidates for trustee of public funds. And incumbents Viscusi, Bradley J. Bender and newcomer Netanel Crispe are seeking two available seats on the cemetery commission.