Barton elects new board members in unprecedented special election

BARTON, VT - Tuesday, Barton Town voted two new members to its select board in a special election. Two of the three board seats were left empty by resignations, leaving the town without a functioning board since the beginning of December. With the seats filled by the end of Tuesday night, the new board held its first meeting last night.Only 10 percent of the voter list, or 175 voters, turned out for Tuesday night’s meeting, said Grace Mason, Barton’s town clerk. Those voters elected Paul Sicard, with 83 votes, to Patricia Tompkins’ vacant seat for one year, the remainder of her term. James Greenwood, with 100 votes, took Laurence Scarpa’s vacant seat the remaining two years of his term.The two new board members will quickly be thrown into the swing of things as there has been no select board meeting since the end of November and no board business, other than paying bills, has taken place since the previous board members resigned.Tuesday’s special election was the first of its kind for Barton and the state. The resignation of two out of three board members at the same time left the town in a lurch as there is no state statute describing the process of electing new board members when there is only one member left to call an election. As the statute stands, a single board member can sign for town bills and payroll but has no authority beyond that. Without enough members on a board for a unanimous vote, the board cannot “vote.” But a discussion between the town attorney, William Davies, and the Secretary of State produced a decision allowing the remaining select board member to call the special election to fill the vacancies. Three people ran for Tompkin’s seat while four ran for the vacancy left by Scarpa. Sicard, who took Tompkin’s place, has board experience; he is a past Barton Village Trustee.