August 12, 2019 South Burlington, VT. New opportunity for civic-minded, people-oriented Vermonters to get involved. The Justice of the Peace Association and the Vermont Municipal Clerks’ and Treasurers’ Association (VMCTA) are teaming up to engage residents to become justices of the peace. JPs, as they are informally called, are entrusted to help with elections, hear tax appeals and officiate weddings.
How to become a Justice of the Peace?
Candidates for JP’s are solicited by the political parties in their town during their bi-annual caucuses in July (next one is in 2020) and those names are placed on the ballot in November and the winners fulfil two-year terms. However, when a vacancy is created mid-term the political party forwards names to the Governor who will make then appointment– and right now there are vacancies in the state. If you are interested in being a Justice of the Peace, please contact your local political party chair or your town clerk to see if there are any openings.
What do Justices of the Peace do?
JPs work with the town clerks and serve as election officials and may work the polls on election day. They may also deliver absentee ballots to sick or disabled voters.
Board of Civil Authority
The Board is comprised of elected officials which are the JP’s, the Select Board as well as the Town Clerk. As a member of the Board of Civil Authority you act as a jury and hear grievances between the municipality and property owner over assessed value of real estate and offer your decision. The Board exists to give property owners an avenue to have an impartial party (since the entire board is elected) hear both sides and reach a decision.
Board for Abatement
The same members of the Board of Civil Authority are also members of the Board of Abatement. There are certain criteria for whether taxes should be forgiven as set forth in state statues such as a fire or inability to pay the taxes by the property owner. This board hears facts from the municipality and the property owner and operates under the same decision-making process as the Board of Civil Authority.
Officiate at Weddings
An optional role of JPs, though for some the most enjoyable aspect, is officiating weddings. Being a part of a family’s beginning can be awe-inspiring. This aspect of the role carries tremendous responsibility – and opportunity. Because JPs may be compensated for officiating, many do weddings on a part or full-time basis, and it becomes a profession. The timing of this appeal is fortunate. It comes on the heels of the Justice of the Peace Association’s recent efforts to serve the state’s JPs.
Why join JPus?
A professional membership group serving most of New England, the Justice of the Peace Association (JPus) expanded its territory to include Vermont wedding officiants. When a JP joins JPus, they automatically receive a listing on findaJP.com, where couples who click go to find their perfect marriage officiant. In addition, through the association, members have a voice in public discourse and networking opportunities with other JPs. JPus also hosts educational conferences and issues a bimonthly newsletter.
“We are excited to expand into Vermont and welcome the state’s JPs to our organization, says Loretta Jay, the managing member of JPus. “Our new model was created specifically for the state’s rural nature. The membership levels accommodate the different experience and time commitment that each member may have. I’m looking forward to working closely with our new members to support them in this rewarding line of work.”
“Findajp.com is an effective online tool for reaching wonderful couples seeking an officiant in Vermont,” shares Vermont justice of the peace and JPus member Carmen George. “They also keep me updated on legislation impacting JPs in New England.”
To become a justice of the peace, contact your local town clerk or your town’s political committee. More information about being a JP can be found in the Vermont Justice of the Peace Guide, published by the Secretary of State’s Office. To learn more about JPus or to join please visit www.JPus.org.