BARRE — Two of three expiring seats on the City Council will be contested in March and one of them is sure to change hands.
Based on nominating petitions that were filed with City Clerk Carol Dawes in advance of Monday’s 5 p.m. filing deadline voters in Wards 1 and 2 will get to choose who represents them on the council, but those are the only political contests that will be settled in the Granite City on Town Meeting Day.
Councilor Sue Higby had announced she would be running for a second two-year term in Ward 1 and she made it official on Monday. Higby’s petition was one of several Dawes received in a last-minute flurry on Monday.
Higby will be challenged in her bid for re-election, thanks to the petition filed Friday by John Steinman.
A former Barre school commissioner, Steinman finished third in a four-way race for Barre’s two legislative seats in November. Steinman, the lone Republican in the field, received 1,024 votes in the race. That was better than longtime lawmaker Paul Poirier, who lost his seat, but not enough to defeat either of the Democrats in the race — Rep. Tommy Walz, D-Barre, paced the field with 1,229 votes, and Peter Anthony finished runner-up with 1,214 votes.
Steinman’s entry into the council race will give Ward 1 voters a choice in March and sets up a one-on-one showdown with Higby.
While the Ward 1 race will feature an incumbent — Higby — that won’t be the case in Ward 2.
Though Councilor Brandon Batham circulated a nominating petition and had collected enough signatures to run for re-election, he said last week he would not be seeking a second two-year term.
Two others have entered the race to replace him.
Renita Marshall, who lives on Elmwood Avenue formerly served on the citizens’ budget committee and is now a member of the city’s Transportation Advisory Committee, was the first to enter the race. Her petition was filed long before Batham announced he wouldn’t be running.
Like Higby, Marshall won’t be running alone.
On the same night Batham announced he would be stepping down, Laurel Street resident Teddy Waszazak publicly indicated he would be running for the Ward 2 council seat. Like Higby, Waszazak filed his nominating petition on Monday.
Things are a little different in Ward 3, where the incumbent – Councilor Rich Morey – is running, but won’t have any competition.
Morey never publicly indicated he would be running of what will be his first full two-year term, but he confirmed his candidacy late last week and filed his nominating petition 30 minutes before Monday’s deadline.
Morey was narrowly elected at at Ward 3 caucus last April. He defeated Bailey Street resident Margaret Ferguson, 15-14, to earn the council seat he now holds.
Though Dawes hadn’t received any petitions for five seats on two lame duck school boards heading into the weekend, that predictably changed on Monday.
Despite a state-imposed merger that will require the election of a new board, Superintendent John Pandolfo had asked four members of the Barre School Board whose terms are up, and one of the city’s representatives to the Spaulding High School Board, to run for re-election.
Not all obliged, and those that did waited until the last day – an in one case the last hour – to drop off their nominating petitions.
School Commissioner Andrew McMichael delivered his petition Monday morning and Sonya Spaulding, chairwoman of the Barre board dropped hers off late Monday afternoon.
School Commissioners Giuliano Cecchinelli II and Chris Riddell both missed the filing deadline, as did Spaulding School Director Anthony Folland.
Barring successful write-in campaigns, those seats will have to be filled by appointment.
Assuming the merged district is launched on July 1, the Barre, Barre Town and Spaulding boards would all cease to exist before the end of the year.
In order to ensure their names appeared on the March 5 ballot, candidates had to collect the signatures of at least 30 registered Barre voters and file their petitions with Dawes by 5 p.m. on Monday.
The rules are slightly different for an at-large seat on the board of the Central Vermont Public Safety Authority that will be on the ballots in Barre and Montpelier in March. The signatures of 25 registered voters from Barre, Montpelier or both are required. Montpelier resident Kim Cheney, who currently holds the seat, is the only candidate for the board.