Questions remaining at the end of the Selectboard Candidate Forum on BCTV were sent to the candidates. Here are the answers from Brandie Starr, candidate for the one year seat on the Brattleboro Selectboard.
I would like to start this correspondance by saying how great it was to have so many voices from our local organizations at the forum. I sincerely hope that at least one rep from each organization can attend the Selectboard meetings regularly, bringing concerns, ideas, and their perspectives and expertise on these topics. I am also compelled to say, that these are serious and hugely important questions, and we need to really be focused and see how they addressed within the purview of the Selectboard with our Town Charter and Town Governance in its current structure.
Individual (question paraphrased)
Often at Town Meeting, representatives walk out before the end of the meeting, denying a quorum to the other participants and shutting down business. How do you feel about this? Is there anything that can be done to prevent it?
It is not really acceptable, though I understand we sometimes can’t avoid life; people may have time constraints such as childcare, for example. Tim Wessel asked the other day “why don’t we have childcare provided for that day on site?” I agree with him! Seems we could pull that together, many of us are used to getting that kind of thing organized. Also, educating people on the importance of staying and the consequence of leaving would be good, both at the moment, and during the election season, listing that as an expectation both when we are recruiting people to run, and when posting about the position of Town Meeting Rep.
Vermont Partnership for Fairness & Diversity
Elected officials in Burlington and Rutland have been working with intention to build and sustain racially diverse communities as a matter of long-term economic sustainability. Would you support funding for the preparation of an Inclusion and Equity Strategic Plan for the Town that outlines the benefits, strategic opportunities, and recommended actions to better serve all residents, and not all of one kind, and to better position the Town for growth in the multicultural marketplace?
I am heartened to hear about such efforts, particularly in Rutland, as it is not new for Burlington to be a leader on such things. I think support for this is a no brainer. I need to do some research in to the program in Rutland (and Burlington), to see how they are pulling it off financially.
Vermont Workers Center
What do you think the role of the Selectboard should be in addressing poverty in Brattleboro and how do you see the Selectboard doing so?
I think, that traditionally, that has been less in the Selectboard’s purview. However, I see two things here that influence my answer: a desire from residents for a different “purview” (if you will) of the Board, (which is governed under the Charter, and we have to remember that). Coupled with a growing need to solve the issue at least in the sense of homelessness within Brattleboro. At this point, it really needs to be all hands on deck, and that includes the Selectboard. We need to find a way to start housing people. Tiny houses on a vacant lot. Tiny mixed income apartments using existing airspace (an idea I cannot take any credit for). We have to get people in a position to be able to receive help and move forward. Otherwise, what are our choices? Bandaids, reactive actions, punitive actions? Those are not holistic or sustainable solutions. Any and all entities that may be able to offer ideas or action, need to sit with the Selectboard (WWHT & Groundworks come to mind) and start hammering ideas out. This issue cannot and should not be discussed in a bubble or a silo. Collaboration and buy in will be key.
Rights and Democracy Vermont
How would you, as a town leader, support Brattleboro residents in standing against the racist & sexist national policies that will be impacting our most vulnerable residents over the coming years?
As a person and as a community member, I fully support all Brattleboro residents, particularly our most vulnerable citizens. As a town leader I would show that support in any way possible, and I very much hope that the organizations we saw last night at the forum, stay at the table, bringing concerns and ideas about these topics on a regular basis.
Green Mountain Crossroads
If Trump's religious exemption executive order aimed at LGBTQ people (and others!) comes down, what will you do to make sure that Brattleboro is a safe place for LGBTQ people?
I will do any and everything in the power of the Selectboard to make sure all of our residents feel safe, supported, and included. These are issues that may not have landed in front of the Selectboard in the past, and I do not yet have a great understanding of what the Selectboard can do in regards to these issues, but providing a safe town for our citizens is certainly part of the job.
Post Oil Solutions/350 Brattleboro
Would you see any value in creating a Citizen Climate Change Committee that would help advise the Select Board about the state of climate change and the dangers and challenges that this represents for Brattleboro, along with recommendations as as to how the town might be better prepared?
I would have to first understand why that role would not be best served with the existing Energy Committee who seems to be of a climate change focused mind already. If the Committee needs to be expanded to bring on more citizens, then let’s look at that. I am always hesitant to create more Committees if we can work with, or augment, the ones we currently have.
What are you prepared to do as a member of the Selectboard if Groundworks is unable to secure a location for the warming shelter for next year?
Well, we can’t wait for that right? That would be reactive, so hopefully those discussions and that explorative work is already underway with the current Selectboard. If not, it needs to be an early 2017 priority. I hate last minute scrambling and/or surprises. The Selectboard should be able to play a role in this, as involves the protection of our citizens in a physical location, likely within town limits.