Write-in campaigns launched in Pownal

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POWNAL — At least two more candidates have launched write-in campaigns for one-year seats on the Select Board.

A Facebook page, "Recover Pownal," has posted images of four similar campaign posters for those it identifies as write-in candidates for one-year board seats: Donna Lauzon, Elizabeth Rowe, John Bushee and Tiffany Zwinge.

The Banner was able to confirm only the candidacies of Zwinge and Bushee. Rowe, a current Select Board member who did not file papers to appear on the ballot, offered no comment "at this time," and efforts to reach Lauzon were unsuccessful.

When reached Thursday, Zwinge stated that "everyone" identified on Recover Pownal is running for the Select Board.

The announcement would bring to seven the number of residents seeking the two available one-year seats on the board.

Ron Bisson and Angie Rawling have filed papers; their names will appear on the ballot. Shannon McLenithan, currently chairwoman of the town's Economic Development Committee, announced her write-in candidacy to the Banner on Monday.

Three of the posters were posted on the Recover Pownal page on Thursday; Zwinge's was posted on Feb. 11.

Bushee said he decided to run for the Select Board "a while back" but with everything going on, he never turned in paperwork on time.

When asked what he would hope to accomplish if he was elected, Bushee said, "cleaning up the town. All the corruption that was going on." He declined to elaborate.

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Last year, Bushee ran for a three-year seat on the board against Harry Percey Jr. and Michael George. Percey won the seat with 363 votes.

Each poster on the Recover Pownal page exhibits the same blue, peach and white design, with the candidate's name at the bottom in white lettering.

Each also features the hashtag "#KnuckleDragger2020" on the bottom, an apparent reference to an email written by then-Town Administrator Michael Walker calling town residents "knuckle-dragging." That email was one of thousands released in a response to a public records request back in December.

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Walker was unanimously dismissed by the current Select Board on Nov. 18; that termination was upheld, again unanimously, in a Dec. 9 decision.

The poster advertising Bushee's candidacy states that he serves Pownal with "diligence and common sense" on multiple boards and commissions, is a "staunch defender of constitutional liberty and personal responsibility" and demands accountability of those in leadership positions.

Bushee declined to tell the Banner whether he had written the poster, or someone had written it for him.

In a Feb. 11 post by Recover Pownal, signed by Zwinge, Zwinge writes, "To My Fellow Knuckle Draggers, I have decided to run as a write-in select board member for a one year term. It is time to destroy The Machine and take our town back. Lets focus on making Pownal the amazing prosperous town it once was."

In a comment thread below the post, Lauzon asks Zwinge if she is responsive to questions, and asks other questions, including whether Zwinge is affiliated with Discover Pownal, Friends of Pownal or "machine," if she is, or will be, accepting any financial help, flyers, emails or assistance by those groups or Justices of the Peace and if she would use town emails to "retaliate, name call or otherwise be unethical."

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Zwinge, posting as Recover Pownal, responds, "yes I will answer any questions. I have nothing to hide. And as for the rest HELL NO!"

This comment thread appeared to no longer be on the post later on Thursday.

Zwinge's poster states she is a "passionate defender of personal liberty and property rights" and believes in transparency, ending corruption and bringing manufacturing back to Pownal to create a thriving economy.

Besides Select Board positions, Crystal Gardner and Jim Kocsis have also announced write-in candidacies for delinquent tax collector and auditor positions, respectively.

Gardner is also a town auditor, and has filed papers for a three-year auditor term as well.

Of three Select Board members whose terms expire this year, only chairman Bryan Harris is seeking re-election. Board member Marlena Pellon instead filed papers for town auditor.

Harris, who is currently serving a one-year term, is seeking election to the three-year seat now held by Rowe. He will be opposed by Michael Gardner Jr., the town's zoning administrator. Gardner is Crystal Gardner's brother-in-law.

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


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