Wednesday February 27, 2013

WESTMINSTER -- Both men vying for a soon-to-be vacant Selectboard seat say they have no political agenda and only the best interests of the town in mind.

Paul Banik and Stephen Major have both decided to throw their hats into the ring for a three-year term to replace Paul Harlow on the Selectboard, which meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month. They are each longtime residents ready to serve on the board for the first time.

This is the lone contested race for Westminster town and school offices this year. Citizens will be able to vote via Australian ballot from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Westminster Institute, East Parish, on Tuesday, March 5. The other articles will be acted upon in the Bellows Falls Union High School auditorium starting at 10 a.m. this Saturday.

Banik -- who owns a for-hire livestock hauling company called Windshire Trucking -- said he is interested in serving on the Selectboard, as he feels it could use some new blood.

"I have a desire to serve the town in that capacity," he told the Reformer. "I know we will be up against some issues and we have some issues we are still against now."

Banik said he has never served on the Selectboard before but has experience on the recycling committee and an ad hoc solid waste advisory committee. He also is in his first year of a four-year stint on the town's planning commission, which has tasked with rewriting the town plan.


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Banik said he has attended many Selectboard meetings and is interested in gaining more knowledge about what it takes to run a town.

"I'm just a common man ready to serve," he said.

Major, who works as a veterinarian at Green Mountain Bovine & Equine Clinic in West Chesterfield, N.H., is aiming for the Selectboard position instead of seeking re-election for his seat on the Bellows Falls Union High School Board.

"(This opportunity) is something I've been waiting for," he told the Reformer. "I care about the town. I've served on the conservation committee. I'm not focused on any particular issue. I have no agenda."

After more than 12 years on the BFUHS Board, he is ready to shift gears and join the Selectboard to help the town become a more effective and efficient place to live.

Both Major and Banik said they have a large amount of respect for Harlow for his service. They said they may not have agreed with every stance Harlow took but admitted his will be difficult shoes to fill.

Harlow, 62, said he felt it was time for "a changing of the guard" after his 16 years on the board. He joined the Selectboard in 1997, following the death of member George Cote. After finishing that term, Harlow served five three-year terms.

Harlow said he is happy with his service and appreciates the help of everyone he worked with.

"I feel like I've served the town pretty well for a while," he told the Reformer. "I feel like I was good listener to people's problems and that I did what I felt was best for Westminster."

He said he is looking forward to some time off before considering to serve Westminster in any other capacity.

David Ramos is running unopposed for the school board position Major is vacating. It is the only other race in which someone other than the current seat holder is running for election.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.