Field of five for Dorset select board

DORSET - A theme present in the Dorset select board race this year is a love of community and a willingness to serve.

Three seats will be in play during this year's town meeting election cycle. Incumbent Mike Oltedal is running unopposed for re-election to a three-year seat. There are two, one-year seats also open. One is currently held by Steve Jones, who is running for re-election. The other is the one vacated by Marge Freed when she stepped down last December and moved to Florida.

The top two vote-getters from field of five candidates will occupy the two one year seats in an at-large election.

Jack Stannard is a true local - his family settled in Dorset in 1760. He is a 25 year veteran of service on the town's school and select boards starting in the mid-1970s. He said he decided to run again because he is now retired from working as a plumber and has more time.

"[I left the select board] because I thought the town needed some variety, besides I was getting murmuring at home ... 'you're always at a meeting,'" he said.

Stannard said he loves the town of Dorset and wanted to serve again. With previous experience with budgets and select board procedures, he said it would be helpful if he was a member again. He said the town government of Dorset - and other towns like it - practice the purest form of democracy.

"Years ago, they had a vote in Dorset to put the town budget on Australian Ballot, rather than doing it on the floor. I believe we lost something there," he said. "Yes, more people get to vote on it, because half of them never go to Town Meeting, but half of them are not aware of what the budget is about. At a Town Meeting where it is done from the floor, it can be explained, it can have this and that done to it...We lost a little something there, a little bit of that pure democracy."

Stannard said if he is elected, he will help to preserve the integrity of the town.

Steve Jones is the incumbent in the race. The owner of Mettawee Mill Nursery, he has been on the select board for two years. Jones said he originally ran for select board because he felt there needed to be another way of looking at some of the problems Dorset is faced with.

"I think that a fresh view point on subjects is always a good thing," he said. "I think that sometimes people stay in their offices much too long, they outlive their use there and I think, when I feel, or when my friends tell me I've outlived my use being on the select board, then I think it will be time to move on and let someone else's view point be on."

While Jones is not a native of Dorset, he said he has lived in the area for 40 years and is a native Vermonter, so he has a good handle on what has happened, at least in the last 40 years.

Jones knew that there would be a race because the select board interviewed people for the spot that opened when Marge Freed resigned in December. The board decided to keep the spot open until the election because they couldn't come to a consensus about who to fill the spot, he said. Laura Heinel, the final candidate for select board, is currently the business manager of Long Trail School. Like other candidates she decided to run because she has more time and has long been involved in giving back to the community.

"17 years ago I was diagnosed with cancer and I sort of backed off from local volunteering," she said. "But I'm OK now, so it was time. It's really exciting that so many people stepped forward [when Marge Freed announced her resignation, leaving the seat open] says a lot about our town."

Heinel said if elected, she will work to make sure that the town continues to work as a steward for the land, keeping it protected for the future, as well as learn more about the potential for consolidating police and fire between Dorset and Manchester.

Her experience as a member of school board, as well as working in property management, she said, gives her a good background in working with boards, as well as bylaws and ordinances.

"I have good common sense," she said. "I like to be pro-active rather than reactive."

The other two other candidates running for the select board seats - Ryan Downey and Dan Pinsonault - were profiled in last week's issue of The Journal.


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