The Colchester Sun posed questions to candidates seeking elected office to better inform voters. This year, two candidates emerged for Colchester Selectboard positions.
Incumbent Herb Downing and newcomer Jacki Murphy submitted petitions to run for three- and two-year seats, respectively, and will appear on the ballot unopposed.
We gave the candidates three questions and asked them to provide a short bio.
They were each given 450 words to split between the three questions below:
1. Why are you running for selectboard, and what qualifies you for this position?
2. What do you see as the town’s biggest challenge, and what can be done to address it?
3. How do you define transparency, and, if elected to the selectboard, how will you increase transparency and trust on the board when dealing with the public?
Editor’s note: Biographical information only edited for length, style and format. Responses edited only for AP style.
Seeking 3-year term
Moved to Colchester in 1987
Three children grew up in town and graduated from Colchester High School. Currently live on Williams Road with my wife, Chris.
B.A. in government from Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. and a J.D. from Vermont Law School in South Royalton
Practiced law in Vermont for 35 years and am a partner in the Essex Jct. law firm of Kolvoord Overton & Wilson PC
Colchester Development Review Board, 2003 to 2011; chairman 2004-2009. Member of Colchester Selectboard since 2011; currently serve as vice-chairman.
Active member and past president of Colchester Lions Club and current member of Malletts Bay Congregational Church
1. I am seeking re-election to the selectboard in order to build on what has been accomplished by the board since the adoption of the local option tax in 2015, specifically the building of a community center on the Bayside/Hazelett property and the joint project with Colchester Fire District No. 2, the construction of a sewer system to serve Malletts Bay.
2. The selectboard must address the issue of plowing private roads. The current practice of plowing some private roads and not others is unfair and not right. We should plow all private roads or none at all. There is nothing to be gained by not addressing this issue this year.
3. I define transparency as making all information we use in our deliberations available and accessible to the public, giving citizens a full and fair opportunity to be heard at all public meetings, prompt, thorough and courteous response to all citizen comments and complaints and limited use of executive sessions by the selectboard. I think the current selectboard and administration deserve high marks in all these areas. If re-elected, I would advocate that the selectboard meet in executive session only upon very specific findings that disclosure would put the town at a substantial disadvantage.
Seeking 2-year term
Arrived in Colchester in 1972 as a transfer student at St. Michael’s College
BA double major in psychology and sociology. M.Ed. in student personnel services in higher education from UVM in 1976
Worked in SMC’s admission office for entire professional career, retiring as director in 2016
Married Zaf Bludevich, retired SMC senior associate athletic director, in 1979, who now works part-time as a physical therapist at the Edge Sports and Fitness
Daughters Zoe and Bryce attended Colchester schools. Back then, I was involved in PTO and other organizations supporting the schools.
Avid runner, cyclist and skier and currently in training to become a guardian ad litem voluntee
1. Running for selectboard was not in my immediate plans, but I was encouraged to do so by a number of acquaintances who were aware that I recently retired from my position at St. Michael’s College and might be interested in somehow serving the Colchester community. I was feeling frustration and concern over the national political scene and have always felt that acting locally is one way to have an impact. Prior to retiring I felt that I could not commit the time needed to study the issues that come before the selectboard, or any other town board for that matter, carefully enough to be fair to all involved. I now feel I have the time and want to serve the town.
As far as my qualifications, I admit to having a steep learning curve. As director of admission at St. Michael’s, I served on a number of state, New England and national boards and organizations dealing with college admission and education so I am familiar with how boards of directors work in general. Many years ago I served a term on the Colchester Community Development Corporation board when it was really separate from the town governance. I will need to come up to speed on the various issues that come before the board and understand that it will take some time to familiarize myself with the agenda.
What I will bring to the board is a willingness to consider all sides of any issue, learn as much as I can about the items being considered and vote in the best interests of the town as a whole. I do not come to the board with an interest in a particular issue or any preconceived ideas about the direction the board should take on any item.
2. With Lake Champlain such a prominent part of Colchester’s geography and the Vermont Clean Water Initiative being considered by the legislature, I believe water quality and stormwater issues will be the most significant priority. I know the state treasurer issued a report in conjunction with the department of environmental conservation and the department of taxes regarding how to fund the much needed water quality improvements and that we Colchester have been working on this area for some time. I also know it is a huge, complex and expensive problem to deal with, but it is also essential that we move toward a cleaner Lake Champlain and watershed sooner not later.
3. Transparency is, simply, being open and honest in all dealings that come before the board. My guess is that most people do not pay much attention to the workings of any board until they are personally impacted by some decision that was or will be made. While it would be nice to think that all voters pay attention to what is happening in town, I know that most people are just too busy in their daily lives to spend much time on town issues. If elected to the board, I can only promise that I will be open to any concerns expressed. Trust must be earned and can only be earned by committing to be open and honest in all dealings. That is my commitment.