Candidates forum set in Pownal

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POWNAL — In a year of election contests, it's important citizens have the opportunity to find out where their 15 candidates stand on the issues. That's why the Friends of Pownal, Inc., a local nonprofit, will hold their Pownal Candidates Forum on Monday.

This is at least the fourth year in a row the group has held the event, said Rose-Marie Pelletier, president of the organization.

The event will be held at the Pownal Elementary School gym from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

"We've moved the venue into the gym, because last year we had it in the library of the school, and it was too crowded," Pelletier said.

Because there's a diversity of candidates and multiple contested positions, Pelletier said she thinks there will be a "fair amount" of interest.

Nine people are running for four open seats on the Select Board: one incumbent, Ron Bisson, and eight other candidates: Frederick "Fred" Miller, Elizabeth Rowe, Marlena Pellon, Bryan Harris, Donna Lauzon, John Bushee Jr., Harry "Jamie" Percey Jr. and Michael "Mike" George.

Each candidate for all positions — whether running uncontested or opposed — will have two minutes to provide a self-introductory statement, Pelletier said.

After all the candidates speak, citizens will be able to ask questions.

"It's questions about issues that are relevant to the town's business, or the Select Board," Pelletier clarified. "They're going to be short questions; they're going to be quick answers. It's not a debate."

What it is, she said, is an option for citizens to ask candidates where they stand on issues.

All 15 candidates have been invited; "a number" of them have said they will come, Pelletier said.

Two Select Board candidates have indicated that they are interested, but are concerned about the question-and-answer period, she said.

"They want to make sure that [it] is fair," she said. She declined to say who voiced those concerns.

Candidates have been asked to RSVP. "But they could show up the day of [the forum], and we'd be glad to have them," Pelletier said.

After the question-and-answer period, there will be an opportunity for citizens to talk to candidates one-on-one, with time for refreshments and mingling, she said.

Catamount Access Television will also be recording the forum.

The deadline for submitting papers for town positions was 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28. All candidates' signatures have been certified.

Bisson, currently clerk of the board, is seeking re-election to a one-year term. Two incumbents, Jason Olansky and Suzanne Caraman, previously announced that they will not seek re-election.

Chairman Nelson Brownell also previously announced that he will not complete the remaining year of his term, having been elected to the Legislature in November.

Miller, who sought the Bennington-1 House District seat last year running against Brownell, and Rowe are seeking to fill the remaining one year of Brownell's three-year term.

Pellon, Harris and Lauzon are seeking a one-year term.

Seeking a three-year seat on the board are Bushee, Percey and George.

Robert "Bob" Jarvis' term on the board ends in 2021.

Four people have also been filed papers for town moderator, a three-year lister, a two-year lister and a one-year lister. Those applicants, Timothy Holbrook, Sharon Nichols, Jodi Morrison and Wendy Jordan Bisson, respectively, are all running unopposed.

Tammy Sohl is also running unopposed for a three-year term as a school director, as is Angie Rawling, for a one-year term as a school director.

The town election is March 5.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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