ST. ALBANS TOWN – The vice chair of the St. Albans Town selectboard Bruce Cheeseman announced Monday evening he would seek reelection in 2020, eying a three-year seat on the board currently occupied by selectperson Al Voegele.
Cheeseman touted his experience as a veteran member of the board, telling the Messenger, “what I hope to bring back to the selectboard is maturity and a good understanding of what’s going on in the town right now and what the town needs.”
In a call with the Messenger, Cheeseman said he would continue championing some of the initiatives facing the town – especially the redevelopment of the St. Albans Bay area, calling it “our diamond in the rough.”
“The bay is St. Albans Town,” Cheeseman said, calling it “the town’s Main Street” and comparing his image of the bay’s redevelopment to St. Albans City’s Main Street.
“That’s our Main Street,” he said. “That’s what we’ve got to talk about.”
He referred back to his advocacy for recognizing St. Albans Bay with an official state designation as a village center, a designation that would allow landowners in the bay to access tax credits and grants for improving historic structures.
Cheeseman initially began pushing for the village designation after he was appointed to the state’s Downtown Development Board last year.
Cheeseman has served on the selectboard for close to a decade, including years where he served as the board’s vice chair and its chair.
Those years of experience were not always civil, something Cheeseman acknowledged as he alluded to more recent arguments between board members.
“There is no ‘I’ in ‘team,’ but right now there is an ‘I’ [on the selectboard],” he told the Messenger.
Outside of service on the selectboard, Cheeseman works as a facilities manager with the Milton Town School District and has a background as a superintendent with Pizzagalli Construction Company and in the Army Corps of Engineers.
Cheeseman is also a military veteran, with service as a noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Army.
Cheeseman’s declaration came immediately following planning commissioner Erin Creley’s and development review board member Jonathan Giroux’s own announcements they would seek a seat on the board.
“I might as well say it, one of you are going to run against me,” Cheeseman said during Monday night’s selectboard meeting.
Speaking with the Messenger Tuesday, Cheeseman said that, while he could appreciate having younger residents participate in St. Albans Town’s government, he also felt it was important for to have board members “with life experience.”
“I’m not opposed to younger people on the board, but we need the right younger people,” Cheeseman said. “We need younger people involved in local politics – there’s no doubt about that – but we need people with life experience.”
Cheeseman also said he questioned “chest thumping” over recent efforts to mend ties with St. Albans City’s government, saying there were “no boundaries with the city” and telling the Messenger “I could go and talk to [city manager] Dominic Cloud whenever I wanted” even before officials began meeting again last year.
He also said he hoped to take that relationship another direction next year, saying he would advocate for marketing a joint “greater St. Albans region” encompassing both St. Albans City and St. Albans Town.
“We need to brag about what we have,” Cheeseman said. “We’ve got a lot to brag about.”
The seat Cheeseman is now contending for is currently occupied by selectperson Voegele, who announced Monday he would not be seeking reelection and instead endorsed Creley’s and Giroux’s respective campaigns.
“I’m looking forward to another term,” Cheeseman said. “I’m looking forward to seeing some things developed that we’re working on, but most of all I’m hoping we can establish a board that is a working productive team and we’re all working together.”
Town Meeting Day is scheduled for March 3 this year.