Local activist lands board appointment
By Erin Mansfield
CORRESPONDENT | April 30,2014
CLARENDON — The Clarendon Select Board Monday night unanimously approved Marjorie Southard to an appointment on the town planning commission.
After attending nearly every Select Board meeting to take notes and raise questions, the North Clarendon resident made her request in a letter she presented to the board.
“Good for you!” Selectman Arthur Knox immediately replied. “You’ve got my vote.”
Knox immediately put forward a motion that the Select Board passed with no discussion or opposition.
“Welcome to politics,” Chairman Michael Klopchin said.
“It’s a good start, and I think I can help,” Southard said after the vote. “I think I can bring a voice of the people.”
Southard, 64, has been a regular attendee at Select Board meetings and is often the only one in the audience on Monday evenings. She says she has been involved in town politics since 1999 — the year she retired.
A vocal advocate for open government, Southard two weeks ago presented the Select Board with a request that they begin keeping digital records of their meetings and post them on the town website. She had brought a half-dozen copies of a Burlington Free Press article with a list of state bills concerning civil liberties and made a formal presentation asking to be trained by the town to help record meetings.
On Monday, just minutes before she asked for her new position, she warned the Select Board that closing planning meetings to the public would violate Vermont’s Open Meeting Law.
In the community, she has also played the role of an activist for farmers such as herself and expressed concern for construction projects and environmental issues.
She can be seen at town hall tediously taking notes and stirring up discussion.
“The Select Board was always telling me to run for something,” she said.
“It’s time,” Southard added. “It’s time to run. It’s now or never.”
She will serve a four-year term.