Merrily Lovell believes strongly that people should always have choices.
In 2016, a Hinesburg Selectboard member ran unopposed, and in 2017, when it appeared that it would happen again, Lovell tried to persuade others to make it a competitive race.
“Starting in September, I began asking people to run but everyone had valid reasons not to,” she said. “In January, I was at a CVU concert and realized that my reasons for not running weren’t as good, and by the time the last song had been sung, I decided to run.”
Lovell borrowed a nominating petition sheet from Andrea Morgante and, before she left the concert hall, she had procured enough signatures from registered voters to get on the ballot.
Lovell developed the science department at a Waldorf School in Los Angeles, but after 14 years there, she packed up her cat and drove cross-country to Vermont, settling in Hinesburg in 2010. She got a job teaching biology and math at the Lake Champlain Waldorf School.
“Vermont has always been my idea of paradise,” she said.
Lovell’s son and his family live in Charlotte but, even before he settled there, she had chosen Hinesburg as her destination.
“I really love Hinesburg,” she said. “I chose to move here because it was a working town in the hills and near the lake. Once I moved here, I realized it’s a town that has changed a lot. It’s very dynamic and the community is very strong. People have strong opinions and they may disagree, but they talk to one another.”
Newly retired from teaching, Lovell had never been very involved in politics, but the Women’s March in Washington inspired her to become more active. She is enjoying the opportunity to learn more about regulations, roads, and sewer and water systems. She has been to a number of workshops on the latter issue, gaining knowledge on groundwater, drinking water and wastewater, and she has volunteered to be on a Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission task force on water.
One downside to being on the Selectboard is that she had to give up her seat on the Hinesburg Conservation Commission. “That’s where my heart is,” she said.
“Hinesburg is growing,” Lovell said “and I’m not against growth, but I want it to be thoughtful. We’ve had a lot of surveys and people have always said they love the rural character. I’ve seen places that used to have that, and don’t anymore, because the growth wasn’t thoughtful.”
As an example, Lovell used the proposed Hannaford Supermarket. She said she has no issue with the store, per se, but thinks the placement of it in a wetland is wrong. Lovell praised the Hinesburg Planning Commission and the new Town Plan for trying to promote thoughtful growth.
When Lovell moved to Vermont at the end of June 2010, she immediately built a raised-bed garden. She had done some gardening in Los Angeles, but whenever she came east in the summer, it would die from lack of moisture.
“I remember thinking that the first thing I would do in Vermont is get my hands dirty, and I did,” she said. Lovell grows mostly vegetables with a few flowers.
“I’m very grateful to the people of Hinesburg for electing me,” Lovell said. “I’m working hard to understand what I need for the position. I want to fulfill the trust they have put in me.”