Shelburne voters on Tuesday elected Jaime Heins to a seat on the town Selectboard, rejected joining a proposed regional emergency dispatch center, and supported an $8.7 million annual municipal budget.
Heins defeated former selectman and fire chief Chris Boyd, 1,065 to 949, to keep the seat he has held since his appointment to it in November. Heins had been appointed to serve until Tuesday’s election after John Kerr resigned. One year remains on the term Heins now holds.
Heins thanked his supporters and Boyd for a clean race calling Boyd “a classy guy.” He said it’s time to heal wounds and get back to business. He listed storm water, economic development, and the town plan as key issues he looks forward to working on.
Boyd returned the compliment. “I offer my congratulations to Jamie Heins,” Boyd said soon after election returns were announced. “He ran a clean campaign, which I was happy with.”
Boyd also acknowledged his supporters who helped with his campaign. “I can’t thank them enough. There’s 28 people – no, 29 people – who helped and really worked hard, and I cannot tell them how much I appreciated all their support. Now I have 29 more friends.”
Also winning Selectboard seats Tuesday were incumbent board Vice Chair Jerry Storey, who ran unopposed for a two-year term, and newcomer Mary Kehoe, who will step down from the Shelburne Development Review Board that she chairs. Kehoe won an uncontested 3-year term, replacing outgoing Chairman Gary Von Stange, who did not run for re-election.
The new board meets for the first time Tuesday at 7 p.m. The board will choose its chair and vice-chair.
Dispatch fails to attract support
The dispatch proposal, which was on the ballot in seven Chittenden County communities, failed in Shelburne, 1,149 to 906. Shelburne was the only municipality to vote against it – voters in Burlington, Colchester, Milton, South Burlington, Williston and Winooski all voted in favor of pursuing this new project.
The proposal came under fire from many area emergency dispatchers, public safety union members and others who claimed they should have been involved in the development of the plan before it was put to voters. The ballot item gives planners a green light to work out specific details to create a new regional dispatch center and its governmental structure.
In Shelburne, Town Manager Joe Colangelo has been a member of the Joint Survey Committee planning proposed Chittenden County Public Safety Authority. He urged voters to allow Shelburne to continue its role in the negotiations to launch the project.
“It will be important that we continue to closely monitor and stay as engaged as possible with the discussions of the CCPSA. Decisions they make will impact Shelburne in the future,” he said.
Shelburne may in the future decide to vote again or negotiate its way into the municipal district.
Heins said he took Tuesday’s no vote by the public as a signal to the Selectboard. “The people have spoken and it’s a time to push pause,” he said. Heins described the town’s existing dispatch system as the “crown jewel” of the county and understands why people may be hesitant to change it.
Boyd, who opposed the regional dispatch proposal in his campaign, was happy with the vote. “Right now, the voters are basically saying we want more information,” he said.
Election by the numbers
Town Clerk Diana Vachon, who was unopposed for re-election, said 2,100 out of the town’s 6,186 registered voters turned out for daylong balloting on Town Meeting Day. Voters approved all questions on the ballot including the $8,749,307 town budget, 1,274 to 754. Voters also agreed to add $30,000 to the open space fund by a vote of 1,426 to 644.
Town Meeting Day events began in Shelburne on Monday evening at Shelburne Community School where about 75 people shared a lasagna dinner catered by Cucina Antica.
Democratic state Reps. Kate Webb and Jessica Brumsted, both of Shelburne, were joined by Democratic State Treasurer Beth Pearce, and State Sens. Chris Pearson, P/D-Chittenden and Michael Sirotkin, D-Chittenden.
The legislators discussed a variety of issues at hand in Montpelier such as water quality, education funding, improving government transparency.
The annual meeting kicked off with a Boy Scout color guard and the “Star-Spangled Banner” played by School Board Chair Dave Connery on flute while the audience spontaneously sang along. Shelburne Poet Laureate Rick Bessette then read a poem he penned entitled “To A Friend,” dedicated to longtime Shelburne Police Chief Jim Warden for his 30 years of service to the community. Shelburne also dedicated the 230th annual town report to Warden, who retired last summer after a dispute with the town manager.
Veteran Town Moderator Tom Little noted the printed report also paid special tribute to two other longtime public servants in the town. Paul Goodrich has worked for the highway department since June 1967 and became the superintendent in 1983. Cullen Bullard has served as a volunteer with the Shelburne Fire Department since 1967.
The only spending item voters were asked to approve Monday night was the annual stipend for the Selectboard. Voters signaling with colored cards approved unanimously the request to pay the board chair $1,500 and the other four members $1,200 each.
Farewell from Von Stange
Selectboard Chairman Von Stange recapped the past year of municipal project and issues and gave an overview of the proposed budgets. Von Stange, who is leaving the board after nine years, cited the hard work of many of the employees and volunteers in Shelburne. He also thanked his wife, Nora, for her support of his service on the board which said amounted to 40 to 80 hours a week for the last four years.
Selectboard Vice Chair Storey said the Selectboard at the its next meeting will make a special announcement about a gift for von Stange from taxpayers.
School Board Chairman Connery also gave an overview for the school district’s $76.8 million budget and ballot items which all passed on Tuesday. Connery also paid tribute to longtime School Board member Joan Lenes for a combined 24 years of public service as a former state legislator and longtime school board member.