BY STEVEN JUPITER
BRANDON—After the public portion of its meeting on Monday evening, the Brandon selectboard went into executive session to discuss a “personnel matter.” By Tuesday morning, that matter was no longer a secret: Dave Atherton, Brandon’s town manager since 2015, had announced his intention to resign, effective February 21.
In an email sent to The Reporter, Board chair Seth Hopkins stated,
“The selectboard regretfully accepted Mr Atherton’s resignation with deep appreciation for his dedication to the Town and with real admiration for all that he has achieved for Brandon, first as a selectboard member elected twice and then as our professional town manager since 2015. His record as town manager has been truly transformative, and he leaves a positive legacy which will benefit the community for long years into the future. The selectboard congratulates Mr. Atherton on all he accomplished for Brandon and wishes him every success in his future endeavors. He will be greatly missed.”
A special selectboard meeting has been called for Monday, January 30 at 7:00 in the selectboard meeting room in the Town Hall. The appointment of an interim town manager will be discussed. The meeting is public, though the selectboard will go into executive session at the end.
Hopkins continued, “Residents of Brandon who wish to contribute their views on process or qualities they would like to see in the next town manager are invited to share their comments with any selectboard member. The board will consider all public input as it undertakes the most important decision assigned to it by Vermont law.”
Atherton held his office through one of the most tumultuous periods in recent Brandon history: the multi-year Segment 6 project that reconfigured Brandon’s downtown and raised drivers’ blood pressure on heavily-traveled Route 7.
“The Route 7 project was a monster that got kicked down the road for 30 years and [Dave] followed it through,” said Town Clerk Sue Gage. “When anyone leaves a position, you hope that you were able to leave it better than you found it. Dave was able to do that and he leaves the town in a better place.”
Atherton’s tenure wasn’t without controversy, however. Back in the summer of 2021, Atherton found himself at the center of a very public conflict with Peter Newton, who was then Addison County Sheriff. The conflict involved claims by Newton that Atherton had improperly used his town position to try to influence the outcome of a traffic citation received by Atherton’s son. Conversely, Atherton accused Newton of intimidation and withholding potential evidence of police misconduct in the case. The Brandon selectboard ended up filing a complaint against Newton with the Vermont Criminal Justice Council.
Newton was later arrested and arraigned on unrelated charges of sexual assault. He did not seek re-election.
Selectboard member Tim Guiles stated in an emailed comment, “It’s important to note that Dave Atherton left on a positive note, at the top of his game. The town is in great shape—and Dave has decided to move on to a new opportunity. The selectboard will now start a deliberative process to find our next town manager.”
When reached for comment on his departure, Atherton said simply, “There really isn’t much for me to tell. Just time for a change.”