By Abbie Kopelowitz,
Community News Service
As Town Meeting Day approaches on March 1, Duxbury is preparing for another paper ballot election. Like last year, voting will be done via drive-thru at the town office.
Four of the five seats on the select board will be on the ballot this year.
Three candidates are running for two one-year terms. Jamison Ervin is running against incumbents Mari Pratt, current board chair, and Craig Gibbs, who was appointed this past December.
Former select board member Richard L. Charland, who resigned from the board in 2020, is the only one to seek election to a three-year term.
Mike Marotto is also running unopposed, looking to serve the final year of the three-year term to which he was appointed.
Select board chair Mari Pratt, Duxbury resident of 20 years, said she enjoys the work she does for her town. Having served on the select board for four years, Pratt said she has appreciated interacting with members of the town, listening to their thoughts and ideas. “I have tried my best to do the right thing for us,” she said.
When asked about her priorities on the board, Pratt said she would focus on the Camel’s Hump Road scoping study, Scrabble Hill stabilization, River Road repaving, the town salt shed and the town garage repair bond.
“It is all going to depend on what this new five-member board sets as priorities,” she added.
Incumbent Mike Marotto says he is running for reelection because of his connection to Duxbury and his applicable experience and background.
Marotto holds an Environmental Science degree from the University of Vermont. He has worked in environmental consulting and municipal government, managing various projects including brownfields redevelopment, environmental site investigations and remediation, and compliance assistance. He has been employed by Keurig Dr. Pepper (formerly Green Mountain Coffee Roasters) for 10 years.
Marotto said his top priority on the board would be ensuring that every project has a path to completion.
“After spending a year on the select board and learning more about the projects and challenges we’re facing, I have become a proponent of a targeted approach for project management support,” he said.
If elected, Marotto hopes to endorse outsourcing project management within the constraints of the town’s budget. He believes this route will allow the town to complete projects while maximizing the benefits.
Marotto said he plans to prioritize what can realistically get accomplished using available resources, encourage community participation and address routine and unanticipated matters requiring select board guidance and input.
Having lived in Duxbury with her family for almost 30 years, Ervin says that seeking to serve on a select board is one way of giving back to the community she calls home.
Ervin has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Bates College, a master’s degree in management from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, and a Ph.D. in natural resources from the University of Vermont where she focused on town-level land use planning processes in Vermont. Ervin has worked in the field of natural resources since 1991, primarily for nonprofit organizations like the World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy, focusing on sustainable forestry, land conservation and land use planning. She has also spent several formative years in rural Nepal, working on women’s community health and literacy.
In addition to her career, Ervin has served on the Duxbury Planning Commission, as well as on the boards of the Duxbury Land Trust and Waterbury Local Energy Action Partnership. Other notable roles include her positions on the board Ecoenterprises Fund, the Mad River Watershed Conservation Partnership and the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network.
If elected, Ervin hopes to focus on roads and planning. “I would look forward to working with the development review board, the Duxbury Town Forest Committee and the planning commission to support ongoing planning issues,” she says.
Ervin explains that Duxbury’s recent population growth requires investment in maintaining the road system, as well as in promoting better access to fiber internet – “both are lifelines for residents who either commute or telecommute to work,” she says.
Charland graduated from Boston College with a BSBA, and he spent his career in the energy and HVAC field working for fuel equipment service providers as well as heating equipment manufacturers.
Charland says he feels strongly about a number of projects in town: refurbishing the Town Garage, repairs to Bridge 37 on Camel’s Hump Road, preparation of a five-year project plan for road rebuilding, culvert replacements, replacement salt shed, town office improvements and usage for the closed gravel pit.
Charland also said that the board should find a better way to directly communicate with everyone in town. He says he enjoys working with like-minded individuals to positively influence and resolve town business.
“Having served on the board for eight years previously,” he said, “I believe my experience can help provide positive direction with a fiscally responsible approach.”
Gibbs is a native of Waterbury Center and a graduate of Harwood Union. He is running for town office because he wants to learn more about the inner workings of the town.
“People complain a lot about town government and the only way to understand is to get involved.”
If elected, one of his top priorities will be to bring Town Meeting back to an annual in-person event. He said he absolutely understood the need for drive-thru voting by Australian ballot but is hopeful that townspeople can meet in-person next year.
“I understand that a Tuesday meeting is hard for some people who can’t get time off, but there are Vermont towns that have their Town Meetings on Saturdays. One of the reasons we live in Vermont is for the community and Town Meeting offers people a chance to express their opinions, not just at the weekly select board meetings, but in front of the whole town.”
Gibbs sees the greatest challenges facing Duxbury as the lack of businesses and business income. The great thing about Duxbury, he said, is that it is secluded, but that also makes it tough for businesses. Another issue is Duxbury’s roads and how vulnerable they are to natural disasters and extreme weather events. Lack of funding compounds the town’s ability to maintain the roads.
Gibbs and his wife Sophia recently built a house in Duxbury, after having lived in Waterbury Center, Duxbury, Warren and now Duxbury again. He’s a supervisor for a heavy equipment operator in Williston and has also worked as a private contractor in excavation.
The select board will hold an informational meeting February 22 at 6 p.m. to go over the articles on the ballot. The meeting will be online via Zoom.
Kopelowitz is a student in UVM’s Community News Service which pairs student writers with local newspapers.