The Bayfield Board of Trustees has a vacant seat to fill, and trustees must choose between a candidate who has years of governmental experience or a political newcomer focused on family life and supporting businesses.
Former trustee Aaron Wamsley resigned from the board this summer after moving out of Bayfield town limits, making him ineligible to serve as a town trustee. On Tuesday, town trustees heard from two candidates who want to fill his seat: Josh Joswick, a town resident since 1979, and Charlene Thomas, who moved to the area around 2017.
“I like them both. I think they both bring a lot to the table,” said Mayor Ashleigh Tarkington.
Board members want to fill the position sooner rather than later, she said.
Trustees aim to vote on the candidates by Tuesday, which means the new candidate could have his or her first board meeting Oct. 20. The person who is selected will serve on the board until spring of 2022.
That means whomever is selected will jump into helping the town plan its 2021 budget, recover from coronavirus-related economic impacts and manage large projects, such as the water-line replacement project.
“I was proud that people stepped up for this,” Tarkington said. “I hope whoever doesn’t get selected will consider running the next time we have a vacancy on the board.”
In his letter of intent, Joswick highlighted his past leadership experience as Bayfield mayor from 1988 to 1993 and as a La Plata County commissioner from 1993 to 2005.
Thomas touted her experience as a commercial lender at First Southwest Bank to help support local businesses. As a parent to children in the Bayfield School District, she could offer a parental viewpoint on the board, she said in her letter of intent to the town.
Both candidates said their top priority was to improve town infrastructure.
Joswick prioritized infrastructure and capital improvement projects such as a water line replacement, continuing with paving and road maintenance efforts, and improving broadband access.
“Having identified these, it is a matter of finding the revenue to finance them,” he said.
In the long term, the board should look at ways to increase revenue, he said. He focused on enhancing revenue through commercial growth, which would bring in more tax dollars and jobs.
If Thomas could do one thing for the town, she would improve high-speed broadband infrastructure.
“Every day, we hear our internet is horrible,” Thomas said during an interview Tuesday. “In this day and age, we need better internet.”
Thomas also focused on supporting family life and local businesses.
“I want Bayfield to continue to be family-minded and a great small town, while also helping our businesses to thrive and grow,” Thomas said in her letter of intent to the town.
In his letter, Joswick said he is comfortable with the current board’s leadership and is not looking to come in and shake things up.
“In a time when it is fashionable to bash government, I am a strong proponent in (sic) effective local government,” Joswick said. “I would like to help the Town Council deliver good government to the residents of Bayfield.”