Live Updates And Photos: Town Meeting Day 2018
It's Town Meeting Day 2018, and VPR is keeping an eye on what's going on around Vermont today.
Bookmark this page and stick with us as we bring you updates from around the state during the afternoon and into the evening. We're also tracking town and school budget results as we get them.
Follow us on Twitter — @vprnet — and we'll also have some live broadcast updates on VPR beginning around 7 p.m.
Share your community's results with us by emailing email@example.com.
Update 11:11 p.m. — OK, we're closing down the live blog, but keep checking our website in the coming days as we continue to add budget results.
As a parting gift, we leave you a picture of this cake photographed today in Mendon:
Update 10:46 p.m. — Voters in Windsor and West Windsor approved a school district consolidation plan this Town Meeting Day. Windsor School Board Chair Amy McMullen says the other two districts in the supervisory union — Hartland and Weathersfield — wanted to keep their school choice, and so those two towns will not be a part of the new school district.
Update 10:07 p.m. — At least a dozen towns have so far voted in favor of creating a communications district, which means Central Vermont Internet is officially a go. Read more about what that means here.
Update 9:29 p.m. — Mayor Miro Weinberger talked to reporters after delivering a speech at Nectar's. Weinberger says his challengers brought new people out to vote and into the political process.
"I'm looking forward to finding a way to keep those additional people engaged going forward," Weinberger said. "I think this is [an] exciting time for the city, and I think ... combined with the fact that we've come through some really tough challenges over the last six years, I think the next three years are going to be exciting and even more productive."
Update 9:13 p.m. — Burlington voters have approved a measure to ask the City Council to request the cancellation of a plan to base F-35 fighter jets at the city's airport — 55 percent of voters supported the question.
Burlington voters also approved a question to ask state lawmakers to raise the tobacco age from 18 to 21.
And according to a press release sent out by Colchester Deputy Town Manager Aaron Frank, six out of seven municipalities in Chittenden County have approved a measure to create a regional dispatch center. It was approved in Burlington, Colchester, Milton, South Burlington, Williston and Winooski; it was rejected by Shelburne voters.
Update 8:18 p.m. — In southern Vermont, Bennington voters have rejected a proposal to move to a mayoral form of government. Final vote: 1483 against change to 954 in favor.
And up more north, seven towns were voting on the formation of the Chittenden County Public Safety Authority. Seven Days' Katie Jickling reports that Burlington Fire Chief Steven Locke says five of those towns passed the measure, one has rejected it and one is still TBD.
Update 8:04 p.m. — It appears the fourth time is the charm — the Times-Argus is reporting that the local option tax has passed in Barre City.
Prior to this year's town meeting, Amy wrote about the repeated considerations of this tax in the city. That story is here: Barre City Considers Local Option Tax (Again)
Update 7:53 p.m. — Some results to report from Rutland City, where both the municipal and school budgets were approved.
There was no mayor’s race this year, but in a two-way race for city treasurer, Mary Markowski defeated Kam Johnston (who was also running for the board of Aldermen). Markowski is a former assistant treasurer, who was appointed acting treasurer by the mayor when Wendy Wilton left the position to lead the Vermont Farm Service Agency last December.
Ten candidates competed for five seats on the Board of Aldermen. All three incumbents — Scott Tommola, William Notte and Board President Sharon Davis — were re-elected along with newcomer Matthew Whitcomb and Paul Clifford.
- Correction 10:15 p.m. This entry previously stated both Whitcomb and Clifford were newcomers — Clifford has served on the board before; Whitcomb is the only newcomer.
Update 7:43 p.m. — Citing unofficial results, the Burlington Free Press is reporting Miro Weinberger has won re-election in the Burlington mayoral race.
Update 7:29 p.m. — Lucas Herring has defeated fellow city council member Sue Higby in the race for mayor of Barre.
Lucas Herring has been elected Barre's next mayor, 785-561.— Times Argus (@TimesArgus) March 7, 2018
Herring will succeed Thom Lauzon, who has been Barre's mayor for 12 years.
Update 7:15 p.m. — OK, take it away Liam:
Yes, polling places are closed, but we'll be adding updates here as results get reported.
In the meantime, we're curious how voter turnout was in your community. Let us know in the comments and on social media.
Colchester selectboard member Jeffrey Bartley tweeted an observation from that town:
And it’s a tale of two different turnouts in Burlington and Rutland. In Burlington, a mayor’s race and a highly publicized non-binding referendum on basing F-35s at the Vermont Air Guard base are likely behind a steady turnout at the polling places.
Meanwhile in Rutland, Ward 1 clerk Hurley Cavacas, says it’s slower than in past years: "We normally in this ward alone have 300-400 absentee ballots, there’s only 200 city-wide this year,” says Cavacas.
There’s no mayoral election this year in Rutland, which Cavacas says usually boosts voter turnout.
Update 6:30 p.m. — Polling places close at 7 p.m. (a.k.a. in 30 minutes!), so stick with us here on the blog beyond then for more updates.
And as VPR's Peter Hirschfeld points out, we've also been watching as town and school budgets come in — you can check our the searchable and sortable table here.
Update 5:32 p.m. — Back in January, a group of activists was working to hold a no-confidence vote on President Donald Trump at the Johnson town meeting. It did ultimately make it onto the warning as a nonbinding article, and VPR's Amy Kolb Noyes now reports that it has been passed by Johnson voters.
Update 4:45 p.m. — There are 36 towns considering a renewable energy resolution this Town Meeting Day, an effort by the climate justice group 350 Vermont. We noted a few towns that passed the resolution over the weekend, and now more have followed suit:
350 Vermont responded to Amy's tweet above a few minutes after though to note that it was now 25 towns who have passed the resolution. According to 350 Vermont, here are those towns that have passed the resolution:
Towns include:Lincoln,Bristol (facing pipeline expansion),Bethel,Monkton, Manchester,Dorset,Strafford,Bennington,Arlington,Stowe,Plainfield,Peacham, Sharon,Greensboro,East Montpelier,Thetford,Calais,Worcester,Tunbridge, Woodbury,Putney,Marlboro,Wardsboro,Huntington,Williston— 350 Vermont (@350Vermont) March 6, 2018
Update 4:18 p.m. — VPR's roving Burlington reporter Liam Elder-Connors came across the three Ward 3 candidates for Burlington City Council outside the Sustainability Academy earlier this afternoon (and in case you missed it a couple weeks ago, here is our guide to who is running for Burlington City Council)
Update 3:40 p.m. — Results from towns voting to form a communications union district have been trickling in. Here's how things stand:
Update 2:41 p.m. — You never know who might show up at town meeting. Fairfield town meeting attendee Dustin Tanner recounted on Twitter that Vermont Secretary of Transportation Joe Flynn made an appearance at that town meeting.
Tanner had noted on Twitter earlier that there was an amendment to a resolution regarding road maintenance of Route 36, which invited Flynn and Gov. Phil Scott to check out that road's conditions for themselves.
Update 1:33 p.m. — VPR's Nina Keck reports that at the Godnick Adult Center — a polling place in Rutland City — the ward clerk said that by noon, they had seen only a third of their normal voter turnout.
Other VPR reporters though have come across a few first-time Town Meeting Day participants:
Update 1:05 p.m. — Town meeting at… a brewery? Yes, the Bridgewater town meeting was held at Long Trail Brewing Company for the first time this year.
Note: The bar and restaurant had closed for the day and no libations were flowing.
Why was it held there? Norman “Nope” Martin II, Bridgewater’s selectboard chair, told VPR's Emily Corwin that the village school — which closed a few years ago after consolidation with a neighboring town — is no longer safe.
Valerie Bridge, a recently returned Bridgewater native, and Althea Derstein, who has lived here for 52 years, caught up at the bar after meeting concluded.
“I think we should be on national news because we have to be the only town meeting held in a brewery in the country!” Bridge joked.
“I think it just means we have to figure out where to have a good meeting place, because this isn’t really convenient,” Derstein said.
The meeting had been plagued by technical difficulties and had been set up in an odd formation to accommodate the many attendees. The town will soon request proposals for new uses for the old school. Bridge said she thinks it should be converted into senior housing.
Update 12:42 p.m. — In Calais, VPR's John Dillon reports discussions have ranged from milk prices to a $27,000 line item for the Kellogg Hubbard Library. A vote was also held regarding increased funding for a women's shelter, which passed.
A voice vote was taken in Calais regarding town hall restoration (scroll down the blog for a picture of the model!)
And the town voted on forming a communications district — learn more about that initiative here.
Meanwhile in Burlington, there is a non-binding ballot item this Town Meeting Day that would advise the City Council to request that F-35s not be based at the Burlington International Airport. VPR's Liam Elder-Connors caught up with Julie Richards and Scott Baldwin of Burlington who were outside Edmunds Middle School — the Ward 6 polling place — urging others to "Vote No" on that ballot item.
And a meta-journalism moment as Seven Days deputy news editor Sasha Goldstein tweeted this picture of VPR's Liam Elder-Connors mid-interview with Mayor Miro Weinberger, who is running for re-election today against independent candidates Carina Driscoll and Infinite Culcleasure.
More from VPR: Meet Burlington's Mayoral Candidates
Update 11:37 a.m. — In addition to discussing municipal business, town meeting can also be a time to honor members of the community, as Waterbury Record reporter Maddie Hughes points out:
Tuesday 10:50 a.m. — Today is the day! We're out and about around the state. Remember you can follow along on Twitter at the #TMDVT hashtag — plus share your community results. Tell us: What's the turnout in your community? VPR's Peter Hirschfeld notes the crowd from the Waterbury town meeting:
With lots of empty seats in Waterbury today, Selectman Chris Viens (in blue) makes a plea: #TMDVT is 'the greatest opportunity for the community to be involved...Unless we get you people to start being more engaged, I think we're going to fall apart, like the rest of the country' pic.twitter.com/sewauNBE2w— Peter Hirschfeld (@PeteHirschfeld) March 6, 2018
VPR's Amy Kolb Noyes is in Berlin, one of the 13 Central Vermont communities looking to bring high-speed internet to the region. Jeremy Hansen, a selectboard member and founder of Central Vermont Internet, addressed those gathered at town meeting Tuesday morning.
We're still waiting on a picture from the legendary Calais bake sale from VPR's John Dillon, but so far we have received this architectural model creation:
And it's a big day in Burlington, as residents are voting for mayor, as well as for City Council representatives and other ballot items. VPR's Liam Elder-Connors is making his way around the wards this morning.
Pre-Tuesday round up:
A number of towns in Vermont are considering a renewable energy resolution at town meeting this year, and a few already weighed in over the weekend:
At Saturday's town meeting, Thetford also approved a fund to provide a stipend for volunteer firefighters — it's the first time the town will be paying its firefighters. Voters approved putting $26,000 into the fund, and under the plan, volunteers will receive $600 every six months provided they've received the proper training.
A number of towns around Vermont held Monday night meetings. Here are scenes from a few: