NICKIE MORRIS | COMMUNITY NEWS SERVICE | FEB 28, 2020
When Hinesburg voters go to the polls on Town Meeting Day, March 3, they will have the job of deciding who will hold three of the town’s five Select Board seats.
Board member Tom Ayer’s two-year term is set to expire, and challenging him is Jeff Tobrocke. Michael Bissonette is running against incumbent Merrily Lovell for her expiring three-year term. In addition, Michael Loner is running uncontested for the remaining two years of a three-year term from which Aaron Kimball resigned.
Loner, 49, has lived in Hinesburg for nearly 12 years since moving from St. Albans with his family. A real estate agent, he is also a member of the Champlain Housing Trust board who is passionate about affordable housing.
“Hinesburg needs to be a bit more proactive in determining what’s the level of growth we want and how do we make it happen, and how do we afford affordable housing in that growth,” Loner said, stressing the importance of Hinesburg’s tax base.
“Affordable housing is not necessarily all about low-income housing the way people think it is, but it’s an intelligent mix of low income, affordable, and market-based housing. Town budgets will increase every year to pay our staff, and if we don’t keep growing proportionately and gaining taxpayers, Hinesburg will become very unaffordable, and I don’t think anybody wants that,” Loner said.
The other Michael on the ballot is former Select Board member, Michael Bissonette, 61. He stressed the importance of solving issues connected to Hinesburg’s wastewater system.
“We’re kind of stuck in neutral with the wastewater issue and we need to decide what to do there and get it done, so that we can allow ourselves to follow a town plan and provide the services that the growth would help pay for,” Bissonette said.
He’s vying for the seat held by Merrily Lovell. After teaching biology full-time before her first term on the Select Board, Lovell has nothing but hope for the future.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with this group of people, there’s a lot of respect and listening to each other’s point of view, when the meeting is over members hang around because they just want to talk to each other, it’s an honor and pleasure to be apart of,” Lovell said.
Running against eight-year board member Tom Ayer, who could not be reached for comment in time for this publication, Tobrocke, 52, also brought up the importance of adequate wastewater infrastructure to the town.
“Something pressing is ensuring we have sufficient wastewater treatment facilities. With two breweries in town contributing a lot of waste to that system, as we move forward, we have to determine what kind of businesses can we accommodate, and grow the town at a responsible and environmentally stable rate,” Tobrocke said.
Voters will also fill other offices on the March 3 ballot, none of which have any contests this year.
Town Clerk and Treasurer Melissa Ross is unopposed for three-year terms for both posts. Colleen MacKinnon is also running unopposed for a three-year seat on the Champlain Valley School District board of directors.
Frank Twarog is uncontested for another term as town moderator; Glenn Place is the only candidate for cemetery trustee, as is Gill Coates for Peck Estate trustee.
Three spots are open for library trustee with just two candidates — Katherine Kjelleren and Paul Lamberson — leaving an opening for a write-in. The office of town agent has no takers with a blank spot on the ballot.
The polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 3 or voters may cast an early ballot at the town clerk’s office until noon on March 2.
Community News Service is a collaboration with the University of Vermont’s Reporting & Documentary Storytelling program.