July 24, 2014

Ho-hum town elections

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Lack of competition ‘disconcerting’

By Kim Howard
Observer staff

Despite town efforts this year to increase interest in public service, Williston Town Meeting Day ballots will sport not a single contested race.

Of the 16 elected public service openings to be decided by voters on March 6, ten positions have only one candidate and six positions have none.

Town Manager Rick McGuire said it was “disconcerting” to hear that.

McGuire said the town’s first-ever public service job fair held two weeks ago is a “first step” to increasing interest in running for town government. Previous board members have told McGuire they got involved because someone asked them to, he said.

That was the case with newcomer Laura Gigliotti who is running to replace outgoing Williston School Board member Andy Bishop for a two-year term.

Running for School Board, Gigliotti said, “was something on my own I probably wouldn’t have done.” She was encouraged to consider it, and after doing some research decided she was interested in the position. Gigliotti has a daughter in second grade and a son not yet in kindergarten.

Keith Roy, a helicopter pilot and flight instructor for the Vermont Army National Guard, is running for a three-year term on the Williston School Board, replacing long-time board member Marty Sundby.

“Running for School Board is a way to stay involved in the community and stay involved in my children’s school environment,” said Roy, who has a first and second grader.

No one submitted petitions for lister, cemetery commissioner, trustee of public funds, town agent or town grand juror. In November, Williston voters agreed to eliminate the latter three positions by amending the town charter, but the amendments do not take effect until affirmed by the state Legislature. The Selectboard may appoint candidates to open town positions.

McGuire said he believes that in the short term there is not a “tremendous effect” when open offices have just one candidate.

“Long-term, that’s not good,” McGuire said. “The town relies on volunteers to help guide policies and the future of the town. Without that guidance, most likely people may become dissatisfied with the way things are going; and then they may get involved.”

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