New Hartford Selectboard members take seats

Margaret Harrington, of White River Junction, Vt., is given literature by Hartford Selectboard candidates Brandon Smith and Ida Griesemer before she heads into the Hartford polls on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in White River Junction, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Margaret Harrington, of White River Junction, Vt., is given literature by Hartford Selectboard candidates Brandon Smith and Ida Griesemer before she heads into the Hartford polls on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in White River Junction, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

Hartford Selectboard Chair Mike Holt welcomes voters Judy Clock, Jim Clock and Fran Holt on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in White River Junction, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hartford Selectboard Chair Mike Holt welcomes voters Judy Clock, Jim Clock and Fran Holt on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in White River Junction, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

By PATRICK ADRIAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 03-10-2024 12:16 AM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Three new members joined the Hartford Selectboard last week after winning election by Australian ballot on Town Meeting Day. 

In a four-way race for two two-year terms on the Selectboard, town voters elected Susan Buckholz (1,695 votes) and Brandon Smith (979). Rocket, the only board member seeking reelection on the ballot, received 792 votes and Aaron Warner received 436. 

In a two-person race for a three-year term, Ida Griesemer defeated Patrick Danaher, 1,154-877. 

The new board members were sworn-in prior to the Selectboard’s organizational meeting on Thursday night. The board voted 4-1, with two abstentions, to reappoint Mike Hoyt as chairman. In a separate vote of 5-1, with one abstention, members named Kim Souza vice chair. 

Board member Lannie Collins, who cast both votes in opposition, reiterated his past concerns about Hoyt’s meeting management. 

“I feel there have been problems in the past in terms of understanding and following Robert’s Rules of order,” Collins said. 

Collins nominated Buckholz, a former state representative, for chair, though Buckholz said she was not ready to assume that responsibility. 

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to take a leadership role until I understand my role (as a board member),” Buckholz said at the meeting. 

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Buckholz, an attorney, said she hopes to promote stronger collaboration and civility between board members, which has been lacking at times in recent years. 

“This is going to be a good group (of Selectboard members), who will be able to work together and to be respectful of one another,” Buckholz said in a phone interview on Wednesday. 

Griesemer, a health services research scientist at the VA Medical Center, said in a phone interview that many residents told her during the campaign that they wish for the board to be “respectful, collaborative and productive” and to prioritize issues such as maintaining town infrastructure. 

Smith, a production coordinator at a sustainable housing company in Lebanon, said that constituents cited affordable housing as a top concern, as well as managing the town’s operations and infrastructure. 

During the election, Smith said he supported adopting municipal regulations that would help make rents and home prices affordable. 

“It’s important to be creative” and willing to try new approaches, Smith said in a phone interview. 

Over 25% of Hartford’s 9,940 total registered voters participated in last Tuesday’s Voting Day, where 2,379 ballots were cast to elect new town officials and to consider a budget for fiscal year 2025, which begins on July 1. 

Voters approved a $21.6 million operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year, with $16.5 million to be raised by taxes. The budget increases taxes by 7%, resulting in a new estimated tax rate of $1.15 per $100 of assessed property value, or $3,450 on a $300,000 home.

The budget funds new town positions that include a public information officer, a crime data analyst in the Police Department, a housing specialist in the Planning Department and a part-time community nurse.  

Voters also approved $250,000 in total contribution to 18 nonprofit community partners, including $98,000 to Advance Transit for public transportation services. 

An article seeking a $1.3 million bond to fund improvements to the Quechee fire station passed,1,314-909. The project will renovate the facility and construct additions to allow for future expansion of the fire station’s operation.

Patrick Adrian may be reached at padrian@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.