ATHENS — Veterans and newcomers to municipal government are on the ballot Friday in two contested races in Town Meeting elections.
Polls will be open for the election of officers from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Somerset Academy on Academy Street. The annual business meeting is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday, also at the academy, when voters also will be asked to join the Dexter-based Alternative Organizational Structure 94 and to increase the number of Athens school board members from the current three to five.
There are four candidates for road commissioner and two candidates for first selectman.
In the race for first selectman, the current Third Selectman, Guy Anton, faces off against former Selectwoman Brenda Avery for a two-year term.
Anton, 55, has been a member of the Athens Board of Selectmen since 1999. He said with his experience, he will be ready to take over the top spot on the board now that incumbent First Selectman Bruce Clavette has decided not to seek re-election.
“I think you have to have a decent interest in the town, which I’ve always had,” Anton said. “I will have to learn a few things in the next couple weeks, but nothing that can’t be tackled. Looking out for the town’s best interest is a privilege.”
Anton is a farmer, Athens school bus driver, volunteer history teacher and president of the Athens Historical Society.
Avery, 60, was a selectwoman in 1990 and served on the board from 1993 to 1995. She ran for selectman in 1998 and again in 2006, and her name appeared as a write-in candidate in 2009.
Avery said as chairwoman of the Athens Board of Selectmen in the 1990s, she oversaw the building of the town’s sand and salt shed using state bond money, was responsible for closing the town dump and establishing a transfer station, completed important road projects and secured a grant for the town’s Recreation Department complex.
“When I did the bond issues, I was able to save the town enough money to buy the new wheeler that we had and the new grader that we had,” she said. “I think I’ve done a good job for the town in the past, and I hope to in the future.”
In the race for Athens road commissioner, longtime former commissioner Maynard Avery, Nathaniel Foss and Dwight Weese are challenging John Barron, the incumbent.
Barron, 61, has been road commissioner off and on for 14 years. He declined to be interviewed for this story, saying he wanted to remain neutral.
Maynard Avery, 66, has been road commissioner multiple times since 1989, battling Barron every few years — winning some elections and losing some.
“I think I’m qualified to be road commissioner. I did it for nine years,” he said. Avery works for Linkletter & Sons trucking and logging company, of Athens, as a driver and heavy-equipment operator.
Weese, 49, has worked for the state Department of Transportation for the past six years and said that has prepared him to be road commissioner.
“I’ve plowed snow, I worked on roads, and the last two years I’ve been a field mechanic, working on all the new heavy equipment,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to do it, so I thought that now that I’ve got the experience, it would be a good time to run.”
Nathaniel Foss, 23, said his family has a long history of being involved in town government and thought this year would be a good year for him to get involved.
“I’ve always been big into town politics, and I’ve always been real good around machinery,” he said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I want to be road commissioner because I want to make the town proud. I am young and I’m not going to say that I know it all, because nobody can; but I am willing to listen and willing to learn.”
Voters also will be asked Saturday whether they want to join AOS 94.
An AOS is a combination of two or more school administrative units that join together to provide shared administrative and sometimes educational services. Athens board member Dan Viles, who is up for re-election, said membership in the AOS includes a use of a superintendent and superintendent’s office, special education administration, transportation administration, and the business functions of accounting, payroll and financial management.
Members maintain their own budgets and school boards and choose representatives from each school board to serve on an AOS school committee.
Athens residents voted to leave Madison-based School Administrative District 59 in May by a vote of 194-10. AOS 94 is made up of the towns of Dexter, Exeter, Garland, Harmony and Ripley.
For now, Athens is a temporary member of AOS 94.
Viles said he also favors expanding the Athens school board to five members for better oversight on budget and educational issues and to be able to form subcommittees to study important issues facing a new school board.
Outgoing First Selectman Bruce Clavette said spending articles for Saturday’s meeting are up $2,386 over last year’s budget. Spending for 2013 came in at about $444,000, with all of the articles passed as written.
“It’s virtually unchanged from last year,” Clavette said.
He said the town tax rate of $17.60 for every $1,000 in property valuation will not increase if all the articles are passed as written.