Local News

Two Woodstock candidates challenge incumbents for Select Board seats

By Katy Savage

Two candidates are vying for a three-year seat on the Woodstock Select Board.

Eden Piconi is running against incumbent John Doten, Jr. a 27-year veteran of the Board.

Piconi, 49, grew up in Woodstock before moving away for college. She and her family lived in Pennsylvania for 20 years until she moved back to Woodstock five years ago, bringing her husband and five children with her.

“We wanted to raise our kids in a small town where our kids had a connection with their community,” Piconi said.

Doten, 88, grew up in nearby Pomfret. He said he’s only missed three meetings in his tenure.

“I’m feel like I’m kinda dedicated,” Doten said. “If you have a job, you want to take care of it.”

Doten has also worked for the town. He started working for the Woodstock road crew at age 14 in addition to owning his own excavating company. Doten worked for the road crew on and off for about 15 years.

He remembers when there was more dirt and less pavement and when the road crew used shovels more than trucks.

“I know the roads,” he said.

Doten said this will be his last time running for Select Board. “I want to see if I can save the town a little money,” Doten said.

Both Doten and Piconi said the community is different from how they remember it.

Piconi was surprised at how steep the cost of living was in Woodstock compared to Pennsylvania.

“Sometimes it feels like our community is just a resort town,” Piconi said. “We need to bring it back to support the homebase and then second homeowners and tourists.”

Both candidates are concerned about sustainability of Woodstock. Doten said he’s most interested in saving taxpayers money while Piconi wants to grow the economy.

Doten still works for his company, despite recently breaking his hip.

Piconi, a stay-at-home mother, operates a farm called 5 Birds Farm, where she grows and sells products made from lavender and garlic. Piconi’s husband, Louis, sits on the school board and works as a traveling math tutor.

“We couldn’t survive on one income,” she said. “I feel like we really need to get a plan in place to rebuild our economy so people can live in our town again so they can support families and make a living wage.”

The ballot

Ray Bourgeois is also challenging incumbent Jill Davies for a two year seat.

Davies, who has served for one term, is a business consultant, while Bourgeois is a former grounds manager at Boston University.

Woodstock’s proposed $6.03 million budget is up about 3.7 percent from the previous year. The budget includes $138,000 expense for town hall repairs and $1.79 million in highways costs to repave roads.

Voters will also be asked to expand sustainability efforts. Voters will be asked to halt new or expanded fossil fuel infrastructure and commit to 90 percent renewable energy by 2050. The will also be asked to commit to weatherizing town and school buildings.

Woodstock’s town meeting is held on March 2 where some items will be voted on from the floor starting at 10 a.m. Additionally, voting will take place by Australian ballot March 5.

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