BRATTLEBORO — Ian Goodnow - whose election March 3 was in limbo because of the postponement of Annual Representative Town Meeting (ARTM) - has taken his place on the Selectboard.
During a March 23 special board meeting, the sitting board voted to appoint Goodnow, and he was sworn in as the board's newest member by Town Manager Secretary Jan Anderson.
According to the Town Charter, new board members join the board after ARTM at the end of March. This year, however, owing to COVID-19, the meeting has been postponed until May, thus leaving incumbent David Schoales on the board and Goodnow waiting in the wings.
But Schoales resigned his seat last week to make it available for Goodnow, who was elected to a one-year term.
In a press release, Town Manager Peter Elwell explained that postponing ARTM would also postpone swearing in the new board members “indefinitely.”
Schoales did not feel okay with this situation.
In a recent email to The Commons, Schoales wrote, “I resigned because my term should end on Saturday after the ARTM. Because the ARTM was postponed, I would have to continue on the board until some unknown time in the future when it [would become] safe to hold a large public meeting again.”
“That is unacceptable to me,” he said.
Schoales wrote that “the Selectboard should be composed of the people the voters chose, so it seemed obvious I should step aside and have the board seat Ian and get down to business.”
In a phone interview with The Commons, Goodnow thanked Schoales.
“It's an unorthodox situation,” Goodnow said. “I really respect him a lot.”
Goodnow acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic has dropped a lot into the board's lap. He also expressed excitement to be a part of the board during this time.
“I'm already proud to be a Vermonter and a Brattleboroite,” he said. “But it's heartening to see the community's response and the town's response to this crisis.”
During his campaign, Goodnow said he heard from people that they felt disconnected from the Selectboard and staff. He praised the board's efforts to communicate with the community during the COVID-19 crisis, such as the town's daily updates and its improvements to the town government website, brattleboro.org, so people can access information on the coronavirus easily.
Goodnow said he hopes these efforts will continue beyond the crisis.
In the meantime, he said, he plans to “listen and learn” from his fellow board members.
“And find my voice on the board,” he added, “which will take some reflection during such an extreme time.”
During its special meeting, the board also elected its officers for the 2020-21 term.
With unanimous votes of 4–0, the board elected the following officers: Chair - Tim Wessel, Vice-Chair - Elizabeth McLoughlin, and Clerk - Ian Goodnow. Board member Daniel Quipp was absent.
Sitting Chair Brandie E. Starr said she would not seek to retain the position.
“I want to be a regular old board member,” Starr said.