Sarah Fisher to fill Wilmington Select Board vacancy

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WILMINGTON — The Select Board came out of executive session Wednesday night and unanimously approved the appointment of the one candidate new to the scene: Sarah Fisher.

"I've always been interested in town politics and national politics," said Fisher, who's married to local attorney Bob Fisher. "I've raised three children and have a husband that's at meetings often in the evenings so I was unable to get involved."

Fisher told the board she felt like she has more time now. Her top three priorities included hiring a new town manager, looking at the future use of the former Twin Valley High School and continuing the economic development efforts in town.

The one-year term was left vacant after Diane Chapman resigned on Feb. 1. Chapman had been serving a three-year term but became upset with the way the board was handling the resignation of Town Manager Scott Murphy. She had not participated in two executive sessions leading up to board members' decision to ask Murphy to consider leaving earlier than February 2018, the month his contract would run out and when his resignation would become effective.

The other three candidates who offered to fill Chapman's seat all had been on the board.

Susie Haughwout, who has been on the board for nine years but is not seeking re-election this March, said she felt compelled to offer her service. She was prepared to resign Wednesday night from her seat if needed to serve Chapman's term. She is also Wilmington's town clerk.

"The town has some challenges in front of them and the board will be undergoing yet another search coming up," Haughwout told the board, noting that she had gone through the hiring process for town managers twice before Murphy. "We had a discussion on potential capital issues and projects. I submitted sort of an outline to the board of ideas I'd be very willing to continue to work on."

Bill Adams, another candidate for the position, said some of his neighbors had asked him to return to the Select Board. He noted his concern about the taxing structure around education funding. Wilmington and Whitingham are expecting big tax increases on the education rate, even though the Twin Valley School Board had cut the budget.

"I feel that this is my town," Adams said. "I'm glad that you share it with me."

Another candidate, Jim Burke, had been on the board for six years but lost an election in 2015

"I saw a rough transitional time coming ahead," Burke said of his interest in the open seat. "I see things that are long-range things that need a lot of work."

Burke had also participated in two town manager searches and said "that's not an easy thing."

"I feel that it's great to have the public come out to say they want to give it a shot, but I also feel there's a lot of intricate work that needs to be done in this next year," Burke told the board, adding that he offers his experience.

Burke called the former school building the "800 pound gorilla in the room" and expressed worry about jacking up taxes to make it a community center. He said he wanted to look at bringing in bigger businesses to offer better paying jobs.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.

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