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Macomber appointed to Selectboard

Former candidate to fill remainder of Schneck’s term

BRATTLEBORO—Donna Macomber views her appointment to the Brattleboro Selectboard as an honor.

“It feels right,” she said, adding that she feels excited and prepared to dive into the board’s work.

“There’s no place I’d rather be learning,” she said.

The board voted unanimously to appoint Macomber to fill the seat previously held by Ken Schneck, who resigned from the board as of June 19 to take a position at a liberal arts college in Ohio.

In any community, she said, some voices are listened to with more regularity depending on access, privileges all people carry, or the lack of all the above.

Macomber said she feels responsible for bringing multiple voices to the town’s decision-making process.

How things are said also matter, she added.

Macomber said she expects to start her work on the board by fostering a thorough sense of the board’s scope of work. She also intends to attend committee meetings and to see what reins Schneck held.

If Schneck’s absence has created gaps, said Macomber, then she guesses filling those will be one of her first priorities.

Macomber said her approach to her new role of Selectboard member is that of a “beginner’s mind,” which refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject.

Macomber is co-executive director of the Women’s Freedom Center. The majority of her professional experience has centered on advocacy and social justice. Standing in a position of municipal authority will entail shifting her point of view.

In response, Macomber said that she spent the weekend sitting with “what it means to inhabit power with responsibility and mindfulness.”

Every board member views issues differently and work with agendas hidden and transparent, she said.

During the candidate interviews at the Municipal Center on June 20, Macomber said she spoke openly about her connection to the Women’s Freedom Center, her work in the community, and her reasons for running for a seat to remain upfront about her perspectives.

Twenty years at the Freedom Center has provided Macomber with a “front-row seat” to some community members’ financial struggles.

“People are genuinely stressed,” Macomber said.

She understands that some board issues will have greater impacts than others.

Macomber was one of four candidates to submit letters of interest when the board announced Schneck would resign.

Local filmmaker Ian Kiehle; Michael Bosworth, president of the West Brattleboro Association; and Steve Cormier, station manager of WTSA Radio, also interviewed for the seat.

The sitting board, minus Schneck, interviewed the four candidates during a special Selectboard meeting. They then appointed the new member in a second special meeting later that evening. Both meetings were open to public comment and were broadcast live over Brattleboro Community Television. Few members of the public attended the meeting. Only one community member asked a question.

The board asked all candidates prepared questions on background information: why they wanted to be on the board, what experiences prepared them for a position on the board, if there were any specific priorities or issues they wanted to focus on, and if they represented any particular constituency.

Per board procedure, Chair David Gartenstein asked for nominations from the other board members, then the board voted on the nominations. Macomber and Bosworth received nominations.

Macomber’s term lasts until the next town-wide election in March 2014.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #209 (Wednesday, June 26, 2013).

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