Castleton Rejects Moving Town Hall

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(Host) A $2 million bond vote that stirred controversy in Castleton also created controversy on town ballots.  

VPR’s Nina Keck has more on both.

(Keck) Castleton voters overwhelmingly said no to spending $2 million to build a new town hall complex a mile west of the historic village.    Many, like Matilde Turok would rather the town renovate the red brick row house they’ve used since the 1950s.

(Turok) "I feel that moving away form the historic building in town is like cutting the heart out of the town."

(Keck) But local resident Richard Combs says he’s disappointed by the vote.   He felt the time was right to build a new, more energy efficient town hall  – one that would include the police department and a much needed fire station.  He says town officials now must start over.

(Combs) "I think the first thing we need to do is go find out what the voters really want. The bond being defeated doesn’t necessarily mean they want the old building renovated or it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want a new building. It just means they’re not pleased with the present plan. So we need to go out and find out what voters really want."  

(Keck) The controversy over the bond also spread to the ballot.  John Hale and two other candidates running on a platform against the bond had their names printed on the ballot with the words "new ideas" between their first and last names – where nicknames are often printed.

(Hale) "I had the idea and it seemed to me an advantage for us and I asked whether it was acceptable. They said yes it’s acceptable. So we decided to do it."

(Keck) The other candidates were less than pleased.

Katy Thornblade – who’s been Castleton’s town clerk for six years says the secretary of state’s office didn’t raise any concerns when she asked for guidance.

Vermont’s Director of Elections Kathleen Scheele says the clerk was wrong to include the words since they’re obviously not nicknames.   

Sheele says her office was contacted by Thornblade. But she says there was a miscommunication about how many candidates would use the nickname.

According early vote counts, the wording didn’t help much. None of the "new ideas" candidates won a seat on the select board.

For VPR News, I’m Nina Keck.


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