Elections shaping up in Pownal

8 file papers for 4 seats on Select Board

POWNAL — Eight people have taken out papers for four seats on the Select Board in preparation for elections in March.

Four seats of the five-member board are open on the town ballot, as three board terms are expiring and board Chairman Nelson Brownell will not complete the remaining year of his term, having been elected to the Legislature in November. Two incumbents, Jason Olansky and Suzanne Caraman, have announced that they will not seek re-election.

Ron Bisson is running again for a one-year term, as are first-time candidates Marlena Pellon and Bryan Harris. Bisson confirmed to the Banner that he was sure he would seek re-election."I got to stay until this thing is finished," he previously told the Banner. "Clean up the mess. I've been working on it for a few years now."

Pellon, a Connecticut native, has lived in Pownal for 11 years. She's never run for town office before, but she said she was motivated to out of a need for change in the community.

"It's just time for a change," she said. "I've lived in Pownal for 11 years, and I've seen the same people cycle through basically all the boards. It's time for a change. Positive change."

Harris, a lifelong resident of Pownal, turned in his nomination papers Thursday afternoon. His signatures must be certified before he's placed on the ballot.

He said he's long thought about running for the board, and now is the time to give back.

"I just feel that citizens need to become more involved," he said. "I want the voters to have a voice, and I feel I could be that voice for them."

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

Percey, a Bennington native, is running for the Select Board for the first time. He'd heard there were positions available, he said, and thought he'd apply.

"Hopefully, I can be a team player," said Percey, who works at the Vermont Veterans' Home. He'd like the board to work together as a team, and move Pownal forward, he said.

Recently, there's been a "big divide" in the board, prior to Jenny Dewar's resignation from the Select Board, he said.

Efforts to reach Bushee and George, a former member of the board, were unsuccessful.

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

Miller declined to comment in response to an emailed request from the Banner.

Rowe, a two-year resident of Pownal and Bennington native, was inspired to run after attending a Select Board meeting with her husband, a Pownal native.

"It was like, wow, this is amazing!" she said. "[I thought] 'I really want to do this.'"

Now that her children are older, she said, she has the time to devote to the board. She comes from a politically-inclined family, she said, including her grandfather, Ralph Wright, a former speaker of the Vermont House.

"I love this community," she said. "I just want to hear what everybody has to say and just be their spokesperson, and bring the community together."

Board member Robert Jarvis' term ends 2021.

The town election is Tuesday, March 5 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The deadline to file election paperwork is 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28. Those seeking election must have at least 30 registered voters' signatures.

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

Other open positions are: three auditor terms of three, two and one years, respectively, a two-year constable term, a one-year town agent position, and two trustee of public monies positions, each for two years, according to the town's website.

The candidate list won't be final until the deadline, as people can decide to pull their papers, said Town Clerk Julie Weber.

Not seeking re-election are Olansky, whose seat has a three-year term, and Caraman, whose seat has a one-year term.

Olansky cited his busy schedule that involves multiple town-related commitments as reasons for his decision.

Caraman said in an email, "Although I have enjoyed my time working with this board, I am not going to run again. I want to thank everyone who supported me in the past and for all the words of encouragement to run again, but I am looking forward to retiring soon and having less stress in my life."

The Select Board voted 3-1 in November to appoint Caraman to fill the remaining about four months of Dewar's term.

Caraman also was a member of the board from May 2016 to March 2018.

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


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