Bellows Falls shakes up trustee board with two new members

BELLOWS FALLS — A pair of newcomers appeared to have won election to the Bellows Falls Board of Trustees, with only two votes separating the second-place finisher and the runner-up in a three-way race for two seats.

Jonathan Wright was the overall winner, with 122 votes, and Gary Lique, with 82 votes, appeared to have edged out incumbent Stefan Golec, with 80. Golec said he requested a recount of the ballots because the numbers were so close. The recount hadn't been conducted as of press time Wednesday.

Candidates sat outside the Masonic Temple on Tuesday watching voters file in and out. The turnout was low, with only 164 people making it to the polls. Voters could cast ballots for up to two candidates among the three running for seats.

Wright, owner of Cafe 7, said before the polls closed that he could handle losing the election. He'd already lost an election to the Rockingham Select Board in March. It surprised him later, when the results were read out loud, that 122 people had voted for him.

"I'm really enthused," he said. "I'm really grateful that people have put their faith in me."

Wright's campaign centered on fiscal responsibility. He said he respects the people who have served on the trustee and select boards, even if he doesn't always agree with them. He thought Bellows Falls could benefit from a new set of eyes. He's most excited to delve into the village's search for a new municipal manager.

"That's really going to set the tone for the village and the town over the next three to five years," he said.

He's also eager to learn more about the village's water and wastewater rates and see what can be done to lower them.

Lique said the election was exciting, although he was disappointed by how few people came out to vote.

"I'm really excited to see what we can do to help the village," he said.

Lique had never run for office before and the process is still new to him. He's excited to learn about how being a trustee works, about getting a new municipal manager, and about trying to temper the increase of water and wastewater rates.

Golec, who previously told the Reformer he hadn't intended on running for the trustee board, said it will be nice to get a few Tuesdays off. He's currently serving on the Rockingham Select Board as well.

"It's a change," he said. "Which in some instances is good, it will be nice to work with somebody different for a change. Better to have tried than to not have tried at all."

He said he hasn't ruled out running again in the future.

Deborah Wright, who is unrelated to Jonathan Wright, ran unopposed for village president and received 109 votes. Wright said she's excited to work on communication with the trustee board and the select board, the community, and the town and village staff.

Harmony Birch can be reached at, at @Birchharmony on Twitter and 802-254-2311, Ext. 153.


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