DUMMERSTON — A relative newcomer to Dummerston is challenging a longtime resident and longtime member of the Select Board at March Town Meeting.
Current Select Board Chairman Zeke Goodband is being challenged for his three-year seat by Todd Davidson, who moved to town in 2018 with his family.
Goodband, 67, who lives on Houghton Road, had a long career as the orchardist at area orchards, including Scott Farm and Alyson’s Orchards, and now works for other orchards.
Davidson, 56, moved to Dummerston in October 2018. He is the contract capture manager for General Dynamics Information Technology, and works remotely from his home.
“I think I have the abilities needed to continue to help manage our town in the way it’s been managed so successfully for years,” said Davidson. “Being a part of the community, with other family in town, means that I want to ensure Dummerston will always serve its residents in the most positive way.”
“I’m running now because I feel more embedded in this community than other places I’ve lived, and my wife and I both feel that being a part of Dummerston means using our available time and efforts to help our town deal with the issues that constantly arise,” he said.
When asked to name the biggest issue facing the town, he said, “It’s been clear that Article 46 and the school district merger has been an issue for years. We moved to Dummerston as the merger occurred, and talking to people in town, reading inputs, and figuring out the best way ahead for now, stay or leave, is taking up a lot of oxygen.”
Asked about how Dummerston has fared during the COVID-19 pandemic, Davidson said, “I think Dummerston has been great over the past year. This year has been so hard on a lot of people, but we’re so happy to be living here in these difficult times.”
Davidson said that while Act 46 and its impact on Dummerston isn’t strictly a town issue, it’s the biggest issue facing the town.
“Act 46 is the merger of local town school districts that took place about two years ago. Dummerston voted not to merge into the WSESD, but the state mandated that Dummerston, Putney, Guildford, and Brattleboro merge. With ‘leave’ or ‘stay’ as a voting issue on the towns’ ballots on March 2, it’s probably the biggest topic across Dummerston. Voters are very mixed on whether or not to leave the district,” he said in an email.
Goodband said he has lived in Dummerston for the past 20 years, and in the area for the past 38 years. He said he is “an orchard manager, nurseryman and shepherd to a small flock of sheep.”
“I decided to run again when I considered some of the challenges facing the next board,” he said. “I think my experience having served on the board — several years as chair or vice chair — along with my frugality, common sense, and desire to listen to all sides before coming to a decision will serve the board well.”
“I now have an institutional memory of past debates, ordinances and decisions that will be helpful in future deliberations. Wayne Emery, a member when I first came on the board, said it well; he ‘just wanted to do best for the people of Dummerston.’”
Goodband said that he viewed Dummerston’s town plan as his “road map.”
“It’s where, through a community-wide process, townspeople articulated their vision for the future of Dummerston. From protecting natural and working landscapes, energy use, economic development, housing and community services, it’s all there,” he said.
“Our zoning bylaws reflect these visions; they’ve made it easier to establish home businesses while ensuring neighbors are not adversely affected,” he said.
Goodband said that high-speed access to the internet is as essential as electricity, and the town having just joined the regional Community Union District means the town is “a step closer to ensuring all residents have access to this resource.”
Closer to home, he said that while the Dummerston road crew has kept the town’s roads smooth and plowed, the town needs to reciprocate and invest in their work.
“We are past due in investing attention to making their work environment a little less bumpy,” he said.
As for the past year of the pandemic, he said Dummerston has done fairly well judging by the statistics. “Our town office took the lead in implementing COVID protocols, the town garage has taken precautions, and all the boards and commissions have been Zooming along. I find I miss the time before and after our pre-COVID meetings, catching up with others about community news and events. That extra information sometimes was helpful in informing our decisions,” he said.