MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury selectboard Chairman John Tenny revealed on Tuesday that he will not seek another three-year term on Town Meeting Day. His retirement from the selectboard comes at the end of a more-than-16-year run during which the town approved and built some major capital projects, including a new police station and the Cross Street Bridge.
Tenny’s position on the selectboard will be one of three up for grabs on Town Meeting Day next March. The other two incumbents — selectboard members Victor Nuovo and the recently appointed Susan Shashok — are already collecting signatures to be placed on the March ballot.
“I’m glad to see Victor and Susan gathering signatures for their re-elections and will gladly support their effort,” Tenny told his colleagues at the conclusion of Tuesday’s board meeting. “I, however, feel that this is the right time to step aside and make way for a new board member. After more than 16 years in this post, I think that the board and the town will benefit from the new energy and new ideas that a change in the roster of the board can offer, so I will not be a candidate for re-election and will end my term on the board at town meeting.”
Tenny, owner of Mill Bridge Construction, joined the board in 1995, filling a spot vacated by the late Richard Pominville. He was elected chairman in 1997, and has run unopposed in that spot ever since.
While acknowledging the tangible accomplishments during his time on the board — such as new town buildings and infrastructure — Tenny was most proud of the professional culture that grew within the town staff and selectboard that helped bring about results.
The sum of the management team has always been greater than its individual parts, he said.
“The fact of building, nurturing, working well toward a very professional administration and management team, which functions very well and serves the public well, has really been key to the work we’ve done,” Tenny said during a Wednesday morning phone interview. “Together, that team and the board, working very well together, have been able to operate the town quite well, to earn the confidence and support of the people — and that is what has allowed us to move forward with some of the initiatives that we have put forward.”
He also credited Middlebury College with working hand-in-hand with the town on some common interests — most particularly the $16 million Cross Street Bridge project. The college agreed to underwrite $9 million of the costs, with the rest being financed through local option taxes.
Tenny had considered stepping down from the selectboard three years ago, but ran for another term in large part because he wanted to see the bridge project through.
“In this era where the federal and state funding is diminishing or being eliminated altogether, self-reliance on the part of communities is going to be the need and the norm, and Middlebury is really setting a standard for how to work that way,” Tenny said. “Being able to have the support and strength of Middlebury College working with us so well is just wonderful. It makes us so much stronger.”
Tenny vowed to work hard during his final months on the board, which continues to work on a 2012-2013 municipal budget, among other things. The selectboard is also supporting the Town Meeting Day vote on a $4.8 million bond to overhaul the Middlebury fire stations, is beginning to explore the feasibility of new municipal offices, and is anticipating an update of the town plan.
While he will be leaving the board, Tenny vowed to remain interested in town affairs — just from a different vantage point.
“I am looking forward to the luxury of being able to choose my issues,” Tenny said, citing economic development as a notable favorite.
Tenny’s colleagues applauded him after his announcement.
“That was hard,” he said of the emotion of the moment. “I’m gad I got through it.”
Reporter John Flowers is at firstname.lastname@example.org.