Local election will feature contested races and new faces

By Greg Elias
Observer staff

A mix of first-time candidates and political veterans will seek elected offices in Williston this March.

Three open Selectboard seats drew four candidates by Monday’s filing deadline. Two openings on the Williston School Board attracted three hopefuls.

In all, 20 elected positions are on the ballot in Williston. All of the lower-profile positions such as lister, library trustee and town grand juror are either uncontested or have no declared candidates.

Nor did a challenger emerge for the town clerk position. Deb Beckett is seeking re-election to a three-year term despite the fact that she has been deployed to the Middle East along with hundreds of other Vermont National Guard members. Beckett’s deployment is scheduled to last through the end of the year, so assistant town clerks Kathy Boyden and Kathy Smardon would fill in, as they have been doing since Beckett left town in November.

Still, voters will have more choices than in the 2004 municipal election, which had no contested races, and in 2003, which had only one contest.

Openings on the Williston Selectboard and the Williston School Board drew a handful of candidates. One seat on each board will be contested.

Andy Mikell will run against Kermit LaClair for a three-year seat on the Selectboard. Mikell was appointed to the board last year after Mike Kanfer abruptly stepped down.

LaClair has for years been the Williston town constable. He supervises building and grounds maintenance for the Williston School District.

“I think the board has done a good job,” LaClair said. “There’s been lots of pressure on them. But it’s time for some new members.”

The other contest involves two political newcomers vying for a Williston School Board seat. Christopher Geffken is running against Andy Bishop for a two-year term.

Geffken, who has four children attending Williston schools, is an engineer at IDX Corp. in South Burlington, according to his wife, Sherri Arnold. Geffken could not be reached for comment.

Andy Bishop is director of technology for a California-based metal manufacturing company. He has two children, ages 6 and 4.

Bishop said he is satisfied with the overall quality of Williston schools. If elected, he hopes to “continue with the good work the board has done in the past.”

Unless there is a write-in campaign, the other two Selectboard openings will be uncontested, as will be the second School Board seat.

Ginny Lyons, who has served on the Selectboard since the early 1990s, will seek a one-year term.

Lyons, also a state senator representing Chittenden County, said she felt compelled to run because she didn’t want the board to lose continuity amid the turnover of seats. She hinted that the term might be her last.

Ted Kenney, who is finishing a term on the Williston School Board, is running uncontested for a two-year Selectboard seat.

“I feel like I can probably contribute more on the Selectboard than the School Board,” said Kenney, an attorney with a Burlington law firm. “The town is facing a lot of issues. I just think with my background it’s a better fit.”

Darlene Worth is running uncontested for a three-year term on the Williston School Board.

Worth recently retired after 33 years with the South Burlington School District, where she was curriculum director. She is now program coordinator with the Champlain Valley Educator Development Center.

Worth said she is looking forward to contributing to the community after living in Williston for 12 years.

“It’s now time to give back a little,” she said. “It’s been a busy 33 years, and I didn’t have a lot of time to volunteer with the community.”

Perhaps as notable as the new candidates are the incumbents who will not seek re-election.

Mary Peterson, who has served on the Selectboard since 1998 and also represents Williston in the Vermont House, is stepping down.

“It’s time,” she said. “I want to concentrate on what I’m doing in Montpelier. Heaven knows there’s a lot going on down there.”

On the School Board, Kenney created an opening with his decision to switch to the Selectboard. And Elizabeth Skarie, who is finishing a three-year term, will not seek re-election. She could not be reached for comment.

Candidates had until Monday at 5 p.m. to file a petition signed by 30 registered Williston voters.

The election will be held March 1. Early voting ballots are available starting Feb. 9 at Williston Town Hall.


Candidate roll call

Here are the candidates running for municipal and school offices on the March 1 ballot:

Town clerk, three-year term

Deb Beckett (I)

Town treasurer, three-year term

Deb Beckett (I)

Champlain Water District, three-year term

Donald E. Phillips (I)

Selectboard, three-year term

Andy Mikell

Kermit LaClair

Selectboard, two-year term

Ted Kenney

Selectboard, one-year term

Ginny Lyons (I)

Williston School Board, three-year term

Darlene Worth

Williston School Board, two-year term

Andy Bishop

Christopher Geffken

CVU School Board, three-year term

Sarita Austin (I)

Lister, three-year term

Linda Ladd (I)

Cemetery Commission, five-year term

Larry Keefe

Cemetery Commission, three-year term

David Isham

Constable, one-year term

Kermit LaClair (I)

Trustee of public funds, three-year term

No candidate

Trustee of public funds, two-year term

No candidate

Trustee of public funds, one-year term

No candidate

Old Brick Church trustee, five-year term

Jack Price (I)

Library trustee, five-year term

Ann Hazelrigg (I)

Town agent, one-year term

No candidate

Town grand juror, one-year term

No candidate

 (I) – donates incumbent