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Voters will see contested races in Brattleboro

O’Connor and Gander will not seek re-election to Selectboard, Wessel faces challenge for three-year term, and four will compete for two one-year seats

BRATTLEBORO—Several contested races will appear on the ballot for the March 5 town election, which will result in a big change in the composition of the Selectboard.

Current Selectboard Chair Kate O’Connor has decided not to seek re-election to her three-year seat.

“I’ve been there for six years, and it’s time to give someone else a chance to serve,” O’Connor said on Jan. 28, the deadline day for filing nomination papers to get on the ballot.

O’Connor, also the executive director of the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce, said she wants to devote more of her energies toward that job.

Two candidates will vie for O’Connor’s seat: incumbent Tim Wessel will be challenged by Ben Coplan.

Wessel, who is finishing his second one-year term on the board, calls himself a fiscal conservative who balances that philosophy with his advocacy for creative thinking to move the town forward.

Coplan is a co-founder of Brattleboro Area Affordable Housing and served on the staff of Morningside Shelter. He also serves on the Agricultural Advisory Committee and is a Representative Town Meeting member from District 2. He formerly served on the Citizen Police Communications Committee.

Wessel is vacating his current one-year seat, as is Shanta Lee Gander, who is leaving the board after one year in office.

In a letter to The Commons [Voices, Jan. 24], Gander said that “over the past year, my priorities have shifted. I will be devoting time to my studies as I’ve embarked on a path to secure an additional graduate degree, and I will also re-engage with my work as an investigative journalist. While I will not be serving the town as a politician, I will be using my writing and voice in other ways that will hopefully serve the region.”

Four candidates, two seats

Four candidates will compete for the two open one-year seats: Oscar Heller, Elizabeth McLoughlin, Daniel Quipp, and Franz Reichsman.

Heller currently serves on the Town Energy Committee, while McLoughlin chairs the town Planning Commission.

Quipp is a teacher and climate-change activist with 350 Brattleboro.

Franz Reichsman is a doctor and Representative Town Meeting member who chairs the RTM finance committee.

Two contests for Town School Board

There are two races for the Town School Board.

Musician, educator, and Representative Town Meeting member Andy Davis will be going against incumbent Jill Stahl Tyler for a three-year seat.

Newcomer Emily Murphy Kaur, owner of Setu Yoga, will face incumbents Spoon Agave and Robin Morgan for the two one-year seats.

According to Town Clerk Hilary Francis, there are no other contested races for town officers, and no candidates took out nomination papers for the posts of second constable and lister, both one-year terms.

The town election will again take place at American Legion Post 5 on Linden Street on Tuesday, March 5.

Representative Town Meeting takes place on Saturday, March 23.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #495 (Wednesday, January 30, 2019). This story appeared on page A1.

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