BRATTLEBORO - Brattleboro voters chose new Selectboard members and a new town moderator in some tight races during Tuesday's Town Meeting Day election.
Kate O'Connor easily beat Spoon Agave for a three-year seat on the board, winning 985 votes to Agave's 664.
And in a six-way race for two open one-year seats on the Selectboard, John Allen got the most votes with 710. But the second-place candidate, David Schoales, won a one-year seat with 580 votes, edging the third-place finisher, Ian Kiehle, by 16 votes. Kiehle received 564 votes, with Donna Macomber trailing right behind with 534.
Phil Kramer got 334 votes and David Cadran received 256 in the race for the two open one-year seats.
O'Connor, Allen and Schoales will join David Gartenstein and Ken Schneck on the board.
O'Connor said she did a lot of campaigning over the past month and heard from many Brattleboro residents that their No. 1 concern was the town's high tax rate.
In winning a three-year seat on the board, O'Connor said she has some freedom to make tough choices and she said she is looking forward to getting to work.
"I was ready to make that commitment," O'Connor said. "I knew I was going to be able to serve for three years."
O'Connor said all over town she heard about the town's rising tax rate and said she wanted to work to see if Brattleboro can get its spending under control, and build its grand list.
"I appreciate everyone who came today to vote for me," O'Connor said. "Everywhere I went people talked about affordability. That is one message that resonated, and that is something the board is going to have to look at."
Allen also said he wants to work to bring the tax rate down. Allen was outspoken during this campaign, saying that the town had too much affordable housing and the board had to do something to help working people.
In the end Allen beat the next closest candidate by 130 votes.
"The people I met, they are not vocal, but they came out and spoke today," Allen said. "They are sick of the way things are going. They are hurting on taxes and they know something has to change."
Allen, who served on the Selectboard for two years, said he expects to get down to business soon after he is sworn in.
"This is going to be a very good board," Allen said. "There are a lot of things people don't want to talk about, but everything has to be on the table. We have to figure out why Brattleboro has the highest taxes in the state and get that under control."
For Schoales it was a good night, as the candidate won a seat on the Selectboard and the town school board.
Schoales said he didn't campaign on his potential to serve on the two boards, but now that voters elected him he said he hopes he can help both boards by making connections.
"Right now people on the Selectboard don't know a lot about the school board and the school board doesn't know a lot about the Selectboard," said Schoales.
"There has not been a lot of connections and I think it is bound to help."
Like Allen and O'Connor, Schoales said it looks like a strong Selectboard, and he said he was looking forward to getting to know the other members and working with them.
"We all want to move the town forward," said Schoales. "All of the board members seem to be reasonable people who like to listen. I think it is going to be a good board."
This is the first year the Selectboard is operating under the new town charter, which was approved by the Legislature last year. Under the new charter the current Selectboard members will serve through Representative Town Meeting, which is scheduled for Saturday, March 23. The newly elected board members will be sworn in on Monday, March 25.
In the Moderator race Lawrin Crispe beat Doug Cox by only 18 votes. Crispe received 779 votes and Cox ended up with 761. Crispe will replace long time Moderator Tim O'Connor who is stepping down after leading Brattleboro's Representative Town Meeting for 22 years.
The three incumbent Brattleboro School Board members, Jill Stahl Tyler, David Schoales and Mark Truhan all ran unopposed and will return to the school board.
And Brattleboro Union High School Chairman Robert Woodworth will return to the board after running unopposed in this year's election.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.