Published DateTo the editor,
Over the past few weeks I've been approached by many Northfield residents with concerns of a potential conflict of interest arising with two family members seated on the Selectboard. As many know Debra Shepard is running for selectman, and a family member, Peg Shepard, is currently seated on the Selectboard.
Recently a legal matter with The Town of Northfield, Soda Brook Cooperative and the Northfield Sewer District has developed which may take some time to litigate. Debra Shepard is involved with Sodabrook, which sparked the opposing counsel in raising the issue of a conflict of interest with Peg and Peg did rightfully recuse herself from the case. Clearly if Debra Shepard was a selectman, she would need to recuse herself. With a three member board, if two members have recused themselves, town business will be impacted and may be costly, as you need a quorum to make a decision.
There is already another legal issue in litigation that would likely also have a conflict of interest with the Shepards. These two cases demonstrate the legal difficulty of having family members serving side by side on the Selectboard. The inability to even negotiate in these cases could leave the decision making process to the courts and that would be costly to Northfield taxpayers. Family social gatherings may present far more frequent possibilities of a conflict of interest. Maybe this is just not the right time for Debra Shepard to seek a seat on the Selectboard. I ask the voters to consider this in the upcoming election.