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Vermont Public wants your concerns to inform our election coverage. Tell us: What do you want the candidates to be discussing as they compete for your votes?

Lawyer jokes abound as Middlesex neighbors gather for first town meeting in three years

A woman knits while sitting amid a crowd of people in folding chairs
Elodie Reed
Vermont Public
Chris Koonz knits a baby hat next to her husband Jeff, the assistant fire chief, during Middlesex town meeting on Tuesday night, March 5, 2024.

Town Meeting Day is, at its core, about neighbors gathering to discuss, debate and decide business together. And on Tuesday night, Middlesex voters did this for the first time in three years, back from hiatus after the pandemic.

Among the issues at hand: whether to eliminate the town constable position. What follows is a taste of the discussion, starting with town clerk Sarah Merriman.

This story was produced for the ear. We highly recommend listening to the audio. We’ve also provided a transcript, which has been edited for length and clarity.

Sarah Merriman: So for most of my tenure, my 11-year tenure as town clerk, we have not had a constable.

Lauri Scharf: Lauri Scharf. So what would the constable do if we had one?

Susan Clark: Microphone to Sarah!

Sarah Merriman: You may have read a Front Porch Forum story about dogs running around on French Road and McCullough Hill Road. So what we did was we sent Vic and Dr. Penny — two unthreatening yet strong and able men — to go down the driveway and deliver the notice. Because you never know what you're going to get at the house. That's the number one use of a constable. Does that answer your question, Lauri? You wanna be constable?

Tony Turner: Hi, Tony Turner. Is there a penalty to leave the office open in case there was a constable in the future?

Vic Dwire: Sarah, don't go away yet.

Sarah Merriman: There's gotta be lawyers in the room, right? Someone can answer this question.

Kyle Landis-Marinello: Kyle Landis-Marinello. I just wanna note it's momentous that lawyers were encouraged to speak at town meeting.

Susan Clark: And still no answer. All right. At least that was free.

Todd Daloz: Todd Daloz, recovering lawyer. 17 V.S.A. 2651a, subsection d (3). "A vote to eliminate the office of constable shall remain in effect until rescinded by a majority vote of the registered voters present and voting at an annual meeting warned for that purpose." It would appear we can just undo it later. The internet!

In the end, Middlesex voters did eliminate the position of constable.

More from Brave Little State: What do Vermont constables do, anyway?

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.

Elodie is a reporter and producer for Vermont Public. She previously worked as a multimedia journalist at the Concord Monitor, the St. Albans Messenger and the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, and she's freelanced for The Atlantic, the Christian Science Monitor, the Berkshire Eagle and the Bennington Banner. In 2019, she earned her MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Southern New Hampshire University.
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