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Lake Region gets new slate with some new faces

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by Luke Vidic

 

One of the more competitive Lake Region board elections took place Tuesday, March 22.   Several races were contested, and the outcome of Irasburg’s seat reignited questions about the merger’s governance.

The newly elected slate of representatives on the elementary-middle school district will be Frederica Very (Barton), Toni Eubanks (Barton), Amanda Ticehurst (Barton), Vicki Gentler (Irasburg), and Carmen Cook (Orleans).

The newly elected slate on the high school board are Richard Carbonetti (Albany), Gerry Cahill (Barton), Jason Racine (Glover), and David Blodgett (Orleans).

They will all join the other members of their respective boards who were not up for election this year.

The most contentious outcome was in Irasburg, as Ms. Gentler won the district-wide vote despite falling nine votes behind Becky Dion in Irasburg.

Since local districts merged in 2018 to form the Lake Region Elementary-Middle School District, the appointment of school board representatives changed from a vote by constituents to a vote by the entire district.  The representative for a particular town is voted on by the entire district, rather than only the voters in the candidates’ town.

As happened this year, the merger created the opportunity for a town to get a representative other than the one it wanted on the elementary-middle school board.

Ms. Dion earned 42 votes in Irasburg, to Ms. Gentler’s 33.  Across the entire district, however, Ms. Dion only managed to find 151 votes, while Ms. Gentler garnered 305.

While the race in Irasburg raised the most questions, it was not the only competition. Albany, Barton, Orleans also had head-to-head races.

Mr. Carbonetti garnered more support than Walter Earle for Albany’s three-year seat in the closest competition, with both earning over 200 votes.  Mr. Carbonetti tallied 244 to Mr. Earle’s 203.

Mr. Carbonetti’s trade is forestry, but he taught shop class and forestry at Lake Region for one year while another teacher was on sabbatical.

In Barton, Ms. Very earned 266 votes, beating out incumbent Dave Doucet who pulled in 162.

And in Orleans, last year’s chair of the high school district, Mr. Blodgett, garnered 353 votes, while competitor Ben Morley got 105.  He attempted to have his name removed his name from the ballot but missed the deadline to do so.

In a letter addressed to the Orleans Central Supervisory Union (OCSU) community and the district’s clerk, Kristin Atwood, Mr. Morley said, if he won, he would rescind his seat to the runner-up.   He wrote he was not interested in the position because he no longer had a child attending school in the district.

The Orleans County Coalition for Cultivating Equity saw its slate of candidates win out after paying for sponsored posts on Facebook endorsing its slate. The group is not affiliated with the Lake Region school district.

Ms. Gentler, Mr. Carbonetti, Mr. Blodgett, and Ms. Very, were all endorsed by the group, as were Ms. Eubanks, Ms. Ticehurst, Ms. Cook, Ms. Cahill, and Mr. Racine.  The latter five ran unopposed.

Roderick Owens, the group’s founder, described the organization as an advocate for culturally responsive teaching.  Mr. Owens founded the group in 2020 “because of how difficult it was to get traction” on those topics.

He said a goal of the group was to inform people about the upcoming election.  Not enough effort had been put into spreading the word about the election, he said.

Ms. Ticehurst said she attends its meetings from time to time.  She said the group’s goal is to create positive changes in the community, especially for marginalized people.

Both Mr. Carbonetti and Ms. Cook said they never spoke with anyone from the group. The other candidates could not be reached for comment.

The group’s website is under construction at the moment, but Mr. Owens said it should be up and running by the end of the week.

Also elected were Moderator Bill Davies, Clerk Kristin Atwood, and Treasurer Sheila Martin.

Ms. Atwood noted to the Chronicle she received more votes than her father, Mr. Davies.  She also received four votes for moderator, an extremely marginal amount to Mr. Davies’ 436, but an amount she nonetheless was happy to trumpet.

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