This story was updated on March 2, 2022.
BY ANGELO LYNN
BRANDON — In Brandon’s one contested race during Town Meeting Day voting, incumbent Selectman Timothy Guiles won re-election to a three-year term over first-time challenger Marielle Blais in a fairly tight race, 466-396. The two contestants shared similar progressive values, though differed in approach and personality.
The town’s general fund and highway budgets and 11 articles that requested separate spending all passed by significant margins.
Residents passed the $3,230,130 town budget, with $2,712,274 to be raised by taxes, by a vote of 629-307.
Among the articles asking for smaller amounts of public money, residents approved spending $92,000 for the Brandon Free Public Library, 690-262, to support the programs, resources, and community activities of the library. Residents also approved spending $82,580 for the Brandon Area Rescue Squad Inc., 786-165, to support volunteer emergency medical services.
On school votes, OVUUSD voters defeated the $22,710,955 school spending plan, 522-462, in what was a very low turnout for a six-town vote.
First-time challenger Marielle Blais, though losing the election, said she enjoyed the process and took away some valuable insights after meeting town residents throughout the campaign.
“I’m pleased with the outcome and am not disappointed,” Blais said in an exchange Tuesday night. “Campaigning has been a good experience and I would certainly consider running again for select board.”
She said she had learned “a lot about people’s ways of communicating, both their satisfactions and concerns about Brandon. People definitely want to be heard and seem interested in having focused discussion groups about small ways that we can work on problems facing Brandon.
“An initial discussion could deal with identifying four or five issues we’d like to tackle,” Blais continued, “possibly selected via ranked choice voting. Personally, I would like to invite people who’ve moved to Brandon within the past one to three years to talk about what drew them to Brandon and what could we do to make Brandon more attractive than it already is. Let’s keep the conversations going.”
Blais said that although she was encouraged in her campaign “by both women and men, I got a strong sense from women that inclusion is important, that women often have very different perspectives than men do.”
Guiles praised the tenor of the campaign, noting that “Marielle ran a positive race and in many ways, we have a very similar progressive point of view.”
He added that he continues to be “very optimistic for Brandon’s future. We are a healthy community of thoughtful people who care about each other, the state of Vermont, and our place in larger social and environmental issues.”
Most of the other articles that were approved by voters were for lesser amounts, including:
• $7,000 for the Brandon Independence Day Celebration Committee, 575-369;
• $1,000 for the Brandon Area Chamber of Commerce, 639-309;
• $13,500 for the Brandon Senior Citizens Center Inc., 767-185;
• $1,000 for the Open Door Clinic, Community Health Services of Addison County, which provides access to dental and healthcare, free of charge, to those who are uninsured or under-insured, 673-270;
• $550 for RSVP& The Volunteer Center, for free income tax preparation and volunteer placements, 646-301;
• $1,500 for Rutland County Humane Society, 751-194;
• $10,200 for the VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region, 764-187;
• $5,000 for the Brandon Museum at the Stephen A. Douglas Birthplace Community Center Inc., to protect and maintain the building and historical artifacts, 588-353;
• $3,000 to support the Community Meals and Emergency Shelter Programs of Charter House Coalition, 690-249.
In other voting, residents overwhelming re-elected Bill Moore as town moderator, 884-10; re-elected Seth Hopkins and Michael Markowski to one-year selectboard terms by votes of 658 and 700 respectively; elected Courtney Satz to a three-year term as Trustee of Public Funds with 861 votes, and elected David Roberts to a two-year term as trustee of the Brandon Free Public Library with 822 votes. All were unopposed.