Gander, Wessel elected to Select Board

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BRATTLEBORO — Incumbent Tim Wessel and newcomer Shanta Lee Gander won two-year seats on the Select Board on Tuesday.

"I'm definitely very excited," Gander told the Reformer when reached with the news by telephone. "I actually didn't think I was going to win just because, I know sometimes when you run for the first time, you don't always get it. I'm very excited to serve the town of Brattleboro."

Wessel recalled campaigning in front of the Municipal Center with Gander and Bill Forchion, another candidate.

"I realized you can't make a bad choice, three good candidates," Wessel said. "I look forward to working with Shanta ... There's all sorts of fun things happening."

Wessel plans to continue to advocate for the construction of the skatepark at Living Memorial Park. An article at annual Representative Town Meeting on March 24 will ask whether the town should provide another $20,000 to the project.

Wessel had the most votes: 771. Gander had 670. Forchion had 592.

Another contested race in Brattleboro saw Ricky Davidson and Katey Everest elected to the Brattleboro Union High School Board. Davidson had 743 votes, Everest had 581 and Christopher Lievense had 369.

In a 910-180 vote via Australian ballot, voters supported a climate resolution asking the town to protect municipal lands from "future fossil fuel infrastructure, denying easements or agreements for any oil or gas pipelines crossing town lands ... [weatherize] town buildings and schools to make them as energy efficient as possible ... [install] roof-top solar on town and school buildings ... [phase] out the use of fossil fuels to heat town buildings ... [create] infrastructure to support low-carbon forms of transport, including biking and walking ... [use] 100 percent renewable energy in new and renovated town buildings ... [phase] out fossil fuel powered town vehicles and [replace] them with renewable-energy-powered vehicles."

Across Vermont, 36 towns were expected to vote on similar resolutions. The initiative was launched by climate activist group 350Vermont.

"Whereas extreme and erratic temperatures, increasingly severe storms, a rise in tick-borne diseases, and threats to farmers and maple sugar makers clearly demonstrate that climate change is one of the most urgent problems facing our state, nation and the world," the resolution in Brattleboro says, "And whereas the state of Vermont has a goal in the Comprehensive Energy Plan to achieve 90 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050, yet is making insufficient progress towards achieving that goal."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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