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Pepper, Langhus Win Selectboard Seats in Norwich

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/7/2017 7:48:21 PM
Modified: 3/8/2017 12:46:07 AM

Norwich — Voters at Town Meeting approved the town budget and elected to the Selectboard John Langhus and John Pepper, businessmen who campaigned on promises to improve town manager and board relations.

Pepper, co-founder of the burrito company Boloco, defeated Claudette Brochu, a retired Dartmouth-Hitchcock nurse, by a 615-477 margin. The two candidates were running to replace Dan Goulet, who declined for run for re-election to his three-year seat.

“I have to say that win or lose, I really enjoyed the process,” Pepper said soon after the town clerk read out the tallies on Tuesday night, adding that he hoped the defeated candidates would still participate in Selectboard affairs, as they have done in past months and years. “I think they have so much to add.”

Brochu said she was disappointed, but pledged to continue to attend meetings and call for frugal government. She also wished the new candidates luck in their work with the new town manager, Herbert A. Durfee III, whose appointment was announced by the Selectboard on Monday night.

“If they click, it’ll be great,” she said.

Langhus, a vice president at solar developer Norwich Technologies and former part owner of Morano Gelato, defeated Kris Clement, a longtime resident and former crafts store owner, 605-477.

He will take the open two-year seat that had been held by Christopher Ashley, a former chairman, who also declined to seek re-election.

“It feels great,” Langhus said on Tuesday night. “It was a great opportunity to meet a lot of people during the campaign. I’m looking forward to serving on the board.”

Clement, who left soon after the totals were announced, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Despite enduring a considerable amount of vitriol from the town Listserv before the election, the Selectboard candidates developed a camaraderie as they stood together outside the polls on Tuesday.

Minutes before voting ended, at 7 p.m., they linked arms for a group hug.

And as they waited for the results to be announced, the group of four held hands in the Tracy Hall auditorium.

“As for the four people themselves, you’ve all been really great together,” Town Clerk Bonnie Munday told them, before asking onlookers to give the contenders a round of applause.

The town budget passed handily, 832-258, clearing the way for a $4.83 million spending plan, including outside appropriations such as operating expenses for the town library.

That represents a 2.1 percent increase over the current year’s budget and an anticipated increase in the municipal portion of Norwich property taxes of a little more than a penny per $100 of valuation, or $41 on a $400,000 house.

Another warning article asking for $70,000 to fill a gap in the fire and police facilities project disclosed last year by town officials passed, 755-323.

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