Wednesday February 27, 2013

DUMMERSTON -- Next week's Dummerston Selectboard election will include one contested seat and one question mark.

The contested race features two candidates vying to fill a seat left vacant by Selectboard member Tom Bodett, who did not seek another term.

There is uncertainty, though, about the other available seat: Lewis White is the sole candidate listed for a two-year term, and White -- while he technically still is Selectboard chairman -- attempted to resign from that position earlier this month.

And he's not sure whether he would accept another term on the board if elected at Town Meeting.

"It's still up in the air," White said Tuesday.

The only contested race for any town or school office is a three-year Selectboard seat sought by Joe Cook and Steve Casabona.

Cook, of Camp Arden Road, is a former First Vermont Bank and Trust Co. executive who has worked for the past 15 years as an attorney in Brattleboro. He also is a past chairman of the Brattleboro Union High School Board.

Cook also is an avid skier and biker whose resume includes biking "across the United States, from Vancouver to Mexico, the length and width of the United Kingdom and every paved road on the Vermont highway map."

Cook said his concerns include bringing better broadband and cellular service to the town, providing services for seniors, attracting more young people and improving traffic safety at the Green Iron Bridge and covered bridge.


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"It's just about wanting to give back," Cook said. "I think I bring some perspective and skills to the town."

Casabona lives in Poplar Commons and, as president of the homeowners' association there, he played a role in recent negotiations for the town's new gravel pit.

He is a former chairman of the Putney School Board. Casabona has owned a pet and garden-supply store; worked as a counselor for the Small Business Development Center; served as a faculty member at Vermont Technical College and Community College of Vermont; and owned an insurance agency.

"Residential and commercial growth, road maintenance, safety and fiscal stability are issues that are important to all of us," Casabona wrote in a recent letter to Dummerston residents. "With my finance and business background and extensive community and civic leadership experience, I am interested in bringing a fresh voice to the board."

There may be two new voices on the Selectboard if White is elected to a two-year term and does not accept the seat. In that case, the board would have to appoint a fifth member.

White has served on the board for five years. But when a question arose about his ties to the town highway department during a heated Feb. 6 meeting, he announced that he would resign.

Dummerston's road foreman is White's cousin, and while numerous officials and residents have defended White's record, he said he had decided to step down to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The remaining members of the board refused to accept the chairman's resignation letter. But he has not participated in town governance since.

On Tuesday, White said he could not rule out returning to the Selectboard if he is re-elected.

"I'd like to be back on the board," he said. "But I'd still like to see what happens on Election Day."

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.