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Not feeling it in his fuel cells

Chapman will not seek third term on Brattleboro Selectboard

BRATTLEBORO—Christopher Chapman never thought he could serve on the Selectboard until a friend suggested he run.

“I think he [the friend] was right, and it’s something many more people can do than think they can do,” Chapman said.

Chapman announced at a special Selectboard meeting Jan. 10 that he would not seek a third one-year term, becoming the third member of the five-member board to give up the reins.

Selectboard chair Dick DeGray announced early that he would not run this year. Clerk Dora Bouboulis has also said she would not seek re-election.

In an interview, Chapman said it was rewarding to know he had done his best for the community, including helping decide the police and fire facilities improvement project and the town plan.

Chapman said he is stepping down generally because he felt he was “not feeling like I have what it takes in my fuel cells” to give the job all it needs.

Among his other personal and professional commitments, Chapman works at a small Brattleboro-based investment firm.

“[The Selectboard] has been a wonderful experience, and I would call on anyone who cares about this town, and cares about the quality of life in this town, to step up,” Chapman said at the meeting, adding that such a commitment takes fortitude he believes every citizen possesses.

Of his Selectboard tenure, Chapman observed that there are challenges in serving the public that simply come with the territory: occasionally having to say no to the people before him and witnessing town budget cuts among them.

Everything about Brattleboro is first-rate, in Chapman’s opinion, and he explained that he found speaking with residents about their concerns, and working on municipal projects, rewarding. Working with the town staff, he said, was like “walking onto a winning team with thorough professionals.”

Looking back, Chapman expressed disappointment that the upcoming budget could not accommodate another police cruiser, extended Saturday library hours, or a new public works grader.

Of the projects and initiatives Chapman said he found most rewarding in his tenure, “passing a fair budget two years in a row within difficult constraints” came immediately to mind.

Other highlights of his tenure, he said:

• Groundbreaking for the new wastewater treatment plant, which will be efficient, avoid spewing methane, co-generate electricity from its methane byproduct, create clean compost for farmers, and return Class A water to the Connecticut River.

• Following up the installation of the new traffic lights by pressing for improvements to the programming, helping traffic flow and pedestrian crossings.

• Serving on the Small Business Assistance Program loan committee, and helping a tailor re-establish himself after his shop was destroyed in the Brooks House fire; helping the new Whetstone Station restaurant get off the ground; and aiding the new owner of the Peter Havens restaurant on Elliot Street in his acquisition.

• Participating in the huge improvement to the area near the Hinsdale Bridge by way of the new traffic light system, railroad crossing, museum facelift, rejuvenation of the restaurant, and completion of the new Union Station Park.

• Participating in the Arts Committee’s charrette, and approving its application for a major NEA planning grant.

Chapman grew up with a strong sense of service. In previous interviews, he has spoken reverently about his parents’ commitment to the community. His father was Judge Ralph Chapman, and his mother, Hope Severance Chapman, worked in human services.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #186 (Wednesday, January 16, 2013).

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