Brattleboro recount for Select Board flips results

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BRATTLEBORO — Following a recount of ballots filed for the Brattleboro Select Board, Dick DeGray will return to the board for a one-year term.

During the vote count on March 1, Brattleboro newcomer Avery Schwenk defeated DeGray by 1,505 votes to 1,504 votes. However, DeGray requested a recount and the Board of Civil Authority concluded on Thursday afternoon that the actual count was DeGray with 1,505 votes and Schwenk with 1,497 votes.

Town Clerk Annette Cappy oversaw the count by the Board of Civil Authority. She said it's hard to determine why the hand count came up with a different result from the machine count that occurred on election day.

"Unless you are able to watch the machine as it processes each ballot, it's hard to tell what the machine was seeing."

DeGray, a former Select Board chairman, said it was his responsibility to request the recount and would expect anyone in his position would have done the same thing.

"I owed it to myself to ask for a recount. If it was a difference of five or 10 votes, I might not have asked for a recount."

Schwenk told the Reformer that he was not disheartened at all by the results.

"I appreciate the support I received at the ballot box," he said, adding he would consider running again for the Select Board. "I am committed to providing service to Brattleboro, whether that's on the Select Board or as a member of a committee."

Schwenk moved to Vermont to open the Hermit Thrush Brewery on High Street with his business partner, Christopher Gagne. The brewery has been open since late 2014.

DeGray said despite defeating Schwenk in the recount, he was encouraged that a younger member of the community wants to contribute more to the town.

"I hope more younger people will participate, not only on the Select Board but the school board as well. We need younger people stepping up and being active participants in the community."

DeGray said he was motivated to run again for the Select Board mainly out of concern for the town's aging police and fire facilities. On Saturday, March 12, Town Meeting Representatives will discuss whether to approve a plan to renovate Central Station on Elliot Street and move the police station to the Reformer building on Black Mountain Road.

"Whatever happens on Saturday is not a done deal," said DeGray. "We still have a long road ahead of us, but the reality is the procrastination means we are getting less of a product the longer this goes on."

During the recount, the count for David Gartenstein, the current Select Board chairman, remained the same, at 2,019.

The last time there was a recount in Brattleboro was about 10 years ago and it was for a justice of peace race, Cappy told the Reformer. She recalled a Selectboard race in the 1990s where a recount changed who was elected. Matt Speno ended up taking the seat instead of Shoshana Rihn.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 160.


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