Goulet Wins Selectboard Seat in Norwich
Norwich — Norwich residents ousted a nine-year member of the Selectboard while passing all the articles on the warning.
Dan Goulet, 60, defeated Selectman Ed Childs, a retired banker who has been on the Selectboard for almost a decade, 493-263.
Goulet said fellow residents asked him to place his name on the ballot because, as he said, they didn’t like the direction the town was headed. He ran on a platform of “affordability,” and said that 90 percent of the people he speaks to have told him it’s becoming too expensive to live in Norwich.
“I’m just a pawn,” Goulet said last night after he heard the results. “I’m just a speaker for the town. (This vote) says the town is sick and tired of the budget going up and up and up. There are ways that this town can run and be financially responsible and not raise taxes and run the common guy out of here.”
Goulet is a self-employed carpenter and native Vermonter whose grandparents lived in Norwich. He said too many families have told him they plan to move out of town after their children are grown because they can’t afford to live there.
“This is one of the most beautiful towns in the state and Vermonters can’t live here,” Goulet said. “My roots are here. I want it so other people can have their roots here.”
Goulet and Childs both stood in front of Tracy Hall in below-freezing temperatures for the 12 hours the polls were open.
Outside the polls on Tuesday, Childs, 70, called himself a fiscal conservative who has tried to “get done what we need to get done without spending more than we need to spend.” He added that while he’s been on the Selectboard, the tax rate averaged a 2 percent or less increase.
Childs could not be reached for comment last night.
The Selectboard race was the most controversial issue on this year’s warning article, and all other town and school warning articles passed. The nearly $4.2 million town budget, which is up 3.3 percent, passed 433-303.
The nearly $5.4 million Norwich School District budget, which is a 3.8 percent increase, also passed by a large majority, 493-297. The $24 million Dresden School District budget, which is voted on by both Hanover and Norwich residents, passed 1,098-460.
Despite all budgets passing by a decent majority, many residents still expressed frustration over the increasing town and school budgets.
David Hood, 52, said he voted against all the budgets, and said the driving factor for his nay votes had to do with salary increases for town employees. Last year, department heads received large increases — with one department head budgeted for a 27 percent increase — after the town hired a consultant to review the salaries of non-bargaining unit employees. This year, department heads are once again receiving raises that range from 3 to 8 percent. Hood, a woodworker, said he has received pay cuts for the past five years.
“I’ve lived in town my whole life,” Hood said. “A lot of people move in from outside who are probably better financially situated than I am. It’s hard to keep up.”