Local News

Two vie for open seat in Woodstock 

By Katy Savage

Two candidates are seeking an open Select Board seat in Woodstock.

Jill Davies is running against Woodstock Police Sgt. Joe Swanson for a three-year seat vacated by Butch Sutherland, who is retiring.

Davies has served on the board for four years. As her two-year term was up this year, she decided to go for the three-year seat.

“The opportunity to have a three-year seat rather than being re-elected every two years was attractive,” she said.

Both Davies and Swanson have similar interests. Both highlighted the importance of improving infrastructure and developing a capital plan. Both candidates are also active in town, though their backgrounds differ.

Davies, 60, moved to Woodstock 15 years ago to retire from management consulting. She is currently the president of the Woodstock Community Trust and was part of a group that initiated the Woodstock Area Relief Fund to give grants to those in need during the pandemic. So far, the Woodstock Area Relief Fund has given $680,000 in grants to locals.

“I’m the experienced one here,” Davies said. “That also means you get judged on what you’ve done. I’ve proven myself effective.”

Meanwhile, Swanson, 40, an army veteran, grew up in Woodstock and comes from a public service oriented family. Swanson’s mother was a special education teacher while his father Phil Swanson was the town manager in Woodstock for 34 years before he died in 2019.

“I was brought up with (service) as a core of my personality,” Swanson said.

Swanson started working part-time for the Woodstock Police Department in 2000 while attending college.  He was promoted to police corporal in 2013 and then sergeant in 2014. Swanson is also an auditor for the town and has been an EMT for the Woodstock Ambulance since 2007.

Swanson said he wants to be on the Select Board simply because he wants to help.

“We’re at a crossroads,” he said. “There is a lot of growth in the community and a lot of potential and I want to help Woodstock have its best future.”

The police department serves the village around the clock and is governed by the Village Trustees, but retains a contract with the Select Board to provide partial coverage in town. Swanson didn’t view his police duties as a conflict of interest.

“I may have to recuse myself during discussions of the contract with the town,” Swanson said.

Both candidates were optimistic about their chances of being elected.

“I think it’s a close race,” Swanson said. “I have the knowledge of experience and the energy of youth.”

2-year seat is unopposed

A third candidate, Ray Bourgeois, 68, is running unopposed for a two-year seat since candidate Wayne Wilson dropped out of the race.

Bourgeois is a former grounds manager at Boston University. He was appointed to the Select Board in 2019 to fill a term vacated by Sonya Stover.

Like Swanson and Davies, Bourgeois highlighted the importance of improving the town’s infrastructure and preparing for the post-pandemic economy.

“I have the time, I’m interested in the welfare of the town,” Bourgeois said. “I think it’s important to take part in what’s going on.”

Woodstock will hold its Town Meeting a bit differently this year. Two electronic Informational Town Hall meetings will be held via Zoom on Feb. 20 at 10 a.m. and Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. All voting will be by Australian ballot (paper ballot) due on or before March 2. Polls will be open March 2, from  7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to vote in person or drop off your ballot. Feb. 24 is the last day to request a mail-in ballot.

For more information visit townofwoodstock.org.

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