On January 27, 2016

Local elections deadlines approach

By Stephen Seitz

Town meeting is right around the corner, and the period to run for local office has begun.

While there are still some towns like Reading and Bridgewater which conduct business by electing officers from the floor, most elect their officers by the ballot box. Besides selectmen, voters will pick school board members, cemetery commissioners, trustees of public funds, town agents, grand jurors, collectors of delinquent taxes, first and second constables, town and school district moderators, and school district clerks.

In Killington, according to Town Clerk Lucrecia Wonsour, only some incumbents have filed thus far.

“I assume (Selectwoman Patty McGrath) is running,” she said. “We don’t have any races yet.”

Former Selectman Jim Haff says he is toying with the idea of running again, but has not yet taken out a petition to get signatures.

Pomfret elects its officers from the floor, but there is a petition circulating which would add two more members to the town’s three-member board of selectmen.

Town Clerk Becky Fielder said the reason was that the state’s open meeting law prevented selectmen from communicating when not in session.

“They can’t get any work done outside the meetings,” she said, adding “because any time two of them meet, it’s a quorum,” and, technically a public meeting, even if the two are only meeting for coffee.

If passed, “It wouldn’t go into effect right away,” Fielder said. “It’s to get the discussion going. Other towns are seeking five-member boards for the same reason.”

In Woodstock, things are just getting started, according to Town Clerk Jay Morgan.

“We don’t have any contests yet,” Morgan said.

Morgan said Selectman John Doten, Jr. has taken a petition out for a three-year term, and resident Butch Sutherland is running to complete the final two years of a seat being vacated.

“We haven’t had any petitions come back,” he said.

The situation is similar in Ludlow, where Town Clerk Ulla Cook said incumbents are the only ones running so far.

Cook said longtime selectman Howard Barton has taken a petition out for three more years on the board. Selectmen John Neal and Logan Nicoll have taken petitions out for one-year terms.

Others who have taken petitions out include Ludwig Gabranski, asking for five more years on the cemetery commission; Terry Thayne, who would like to be a lister for three more years, and Cook herself, who is seeking another three-year term as the trustee of public funds.

Incumbent Ludlow Elementary School board members Lisa Schmidt and Mariel Meringolo are seeking two-year terms, and Bruce Schmidt is asking for another three years on the Union #39 board.

Petitions for public office need to be returned to the town clerks by Monday, Jan. 25.

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