No Road Commissioner for Guildhall?

Granby Road, in Guildhall

Granby Road, in Guildhall

Yesterday, January 28, was the statutory deadline by which all who wish to run for Town Office must submit their nominating papers, also known as “petitions.” Without meeting this deadline, your name can’t appear on the election ballot on Town Meeting Day (Tuesday, March 5)

This day is always an interesting one in Town, because it’s now we know for certain who will be running and which races are contested. As we get closer to Town Meeting, I’ll have some thoughts, questions, and even criticisms to offer about the candidates who have declared themselves.

But for now, I’m more interested in who has not declared. It’s notable that not a single person turned in a petition to run as Road Commissioner. This is especially surprising, since one can make a credible argument that Road Commissioner is right up there with Selectboard and Town Clerk as among the most crucial of municipal officials. One of the main functions of municipal government is to oversee and maintain our roads. Furthermore, an enormous chunk of the municipal budget goes toward that function.

The fact that not a single person expressed interest in the job (and it’s a paying job, too) is especially surprising in light of recent history. At last year’s Town Meeting, as many will recall, the warning contained an article proposing that the Road Commissioner position be an appointed, rather than elected one.

The question was controversial. There was considerable debate on the matter, with many arguing vehemently that it was important to keep the position an elected one so that the person in that role would be more closely accountable to the voters. And in the end, a substantial majority defeated the proposal, keeping the job elected. (By way of full disclosure, I supported making the position an appointed one, and have written elsewhere on this blog about why.)

Given that vote, and the passionate feelings that a number of citizens expressed about keeping it elected, you’d think that at least one or two people would come forward to run for the office. But no one did. What gives?

And who’s going to be in charge of our roads now?

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “No Road Commissioner for Guildhall?

  1. John Belardo

    You should run.

    • Laura L. Wilson

      No. I’m not qualified, nor am I interested. And to boot, I firmly believe that the Town should make it an appointed position, precisely in part, to avoid this kind of situation.

      • melissa

        Well “word on the street” says it wasnt listed as an open position! That for one would make it alittle difficult to get people to apply id think! Who in the world would want it???? All the person would hear from anybody is what an awful job they are doing etc etc etc…thats the way it works around here with any position held in town…elected officials can work their tails off and theres never a good word to be said by anyone….that would be a good reason not to put in a petition!

  2. Laura Wilson

    Hi Melissa. Haven’t talked to you in a while. What do you mean it wasn’t listed as open? The warning for all open positions–I’m sure–was posted by Sam the Town Clerk on the town bulletin board, was published in the paper, and is in the Town Report coming out now. Having been Town Clerk and Treasurer, I agree that being in those jobs can be thankless sometimes, but still, I feel pretty positively about my experience and found it rewarding, for the most part. I don’t know. I feel like there are plenty of town officers who do a good job. I probably don’t tell them so enough. Hope all is well. Laura

    • melissa

      I didn’t see it on the list of open positions on the Town website, thought maybe it was the same as whatever else is posted…must be a different list. Thankless is exactly what I mean, the elected official usually doesnt hear thank yous etc, only the complaints, after a while people just have enough and don’t want to do it any more and who can blame them. Im not meaning that the officers aren’t doing a good job, I feel they all do, and should be thanked just for taking on the position, I just think after a while, enough is enough…. yes, they need to hear the complaints so that they can be addressed, but when its day after day and call after call, it has to get to be too much I would think. Maybe nobody put in a petition for that very reason, who knows! I do know that after all that has taken place over the years, that on the 1st Tuesday of every March, we will remain home from now on.

  3. Dawn

    I have to agree with Melissa, how can one put a petition in when you receive an email from the Town Clerk and the position is not listed?

    • Laura L. Wilson

      Hi Dawn,
      I don’t know why it wasn’t listed on the website–but the reason that I knew the position was open because in January, I saw it posted along with the other open positions at the Town Office bulletin board, which is the statutory requirement for posting. It’s also in the Town Report.

  4. Laura L. Wilson

    Yes, I’ve also talked to the Town Clerk Sam and it looks like Road Commissioner was posted as required on the bulletin board but mistakenly left off the website list.

  5. Laura L. Wilson

    I see on the bulletin board that the Town Clerk has decided to extend the deadline for Road Commissioner nominating petitions by one week. Let’s hope someone comes forward!

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