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What are the most important issues you want to tackle on the Board of Aldermen?
Billy Gillam, Rutland
Neighborhoods, jobs, security. Neighborhoods — we’re doing a good job with the neighborhoods, but we’ve got to keep going. We’ve got to keep making it happen. Neighborhoods — we’ve got a bad housing stock. We’re starting to turn them over. We’ve got all these depleted properties now that have been sold off, and now new people are taking them and improving them, so eventually they’re back on the tax rolls. We’ve got to find affordability for people. We’ve got to find jobs on top of that, and then we need to take care of the economy here. If we can work on all three of those (issues) in sync, things might happen here.
Vt. Rep. Larry Cupoli, Rutland
We certainly have issues in Montpelier particularly dealing with education, which I serve on the education committee. We have, certainly, as you know, we’re trying to get our budget done. It’s coming along well, it’s a little slow. We have a lot of bills this year that have been introduced. That’s really slowing things down in the Senate. So bills coming back to the House — bills coming back to the House, it’s kind of quiet. We’ve only passed out five bills in eight weeks that we’ve been in Montpelier, which is extremely unusual. Usually it’s moving much quicker, much faster.
RH: You don’t seem to be in favor of the legalization of recreational marijuana.
LC: I’m not in favor of it. I’m greatly concerned about our youth. We don’t have the protections in place to really deal with the psychological effects. There’s stuff out there, information out there that really does deal with that. People don’t seem to be paying attention. As far as the income, or the money that’s supposed to be generated, tax-wise, we’re going to be the least taxed state in the country that legalizes marijuana. I don’t see enough money there to even start the program, particularly when you’re dealing with police and educational issues around marijuana. I don’t think the money’s going to be there to do that. We have a very small state. We have a small population. I don’t see how it’s going to work effectively. Again, I’m concerned about our youth. We have enough trouble now, and even adults. We have problems that we have to take care of before we introduce.
John Pedone, Rutland
RH: What does the Boys & Girls Club do for the boys and girls of the community?
JP: Right now in this community, we have an after-school program ... and we have multiple sites. We have one in Rutland at Merchant’s Row, we have one at Fair Haven, which is at the grade school in Fair Haven, one at the Barstow School in Chittenden. And all three of those operate for the children’s after-school program from about 3 p.m. to 6-6:30 p.m. And in the program besides having arts and crafts, and games, we have a snack right at the school, and we feed every child dinner — usually family-style dinner that they can eat if they like. Some don’t, some do. We serve the population. And anybody is welcome to come. A lot of our children are subsidized by the feds, which helps us to pay for the food and the staffing. We are a very small-staffed unit in the state, but we’re countywide. We’re trying to grow it, and this is part of our campaign to keep the kids into a positive program where we teach them respect, responsibility and safety. It’s all part of our program. We do things called “Smart Moves,” which teaches the younger children to have prestige on themselves, you know, to be active and to be ... the person we’d like them to be and to grow, have positive attitudes. And later on, we teach anti-drug programs and safety. We’re here looking for funds because we’ve been cut by the feds, a little bit, and we just have a growing program that we want to keep growing for the children of the community.
Christopher Ettori, Rutland
I’ve had four years on the board here, and I’m intrigued by what the possibilities are for the next couple of years in economic development. I really want to work on the rental markets. We’re trying to recruit people to move here to the city, and we really need some quality rentals for them to move into, so I’d really like to work on that over the next couple of years.
RH: What’s the problem with the quality of the rentals here?
CE: Well, from what we hear from the people we’re recruiting, when they come here to visit, they can’t find them. And they can’t find the quality of rentals that they’re looking for. Really, if we can build some downtown housing, that would be great. That helps our commerce —people are moving around downtown, it looks lively, there’s a lot of vitality. If we can figure that out, we’d be in good shape.
Amanda Begin, Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum
We do a lot with our space for families to come and learn together, to play. We go out to schools, do a lot of free programming with them thanks to grants. The Boys & Girls Club comes during the summer, spend a lot of time with us. We’re also a space for families who need mental health services, Mentor Connector, physical therapy, speech and language pathology. You name it — they’re able to use our museum for free during those appointments. So it’s really exciting!
Matthew Merritt, Rutland
I think a definite is the infrastructure. I think it’s long overdue. Our sidewalks, our side streets are the life-blood of our community. I think we need to make it an absolute priority in the coming years to help fix that.
Michel “Champlain” Messier, Rutland
I think affordability. We need to reduce taxes and improve the roads. We all hear a lot about the roads. And then economic opportunities by way of jobs, and I think that’s got a good foundation in transportation, getting to and from Rutland is key, improving that corridor from Fair Haven to the Northway and then down to 89 and 91.
RH: You’re talking about building new highways.
MCM: Yes, that’s correct. I think we need to work with our (congressional delegation) Leahy, Welch and Sanders to get them to work with New York and for everybody to work together to get those finished. They’ve been on the books since 1950, considered the “I-92 corridor,” the east-west corridor.
RH: You talk about affordability, but what do you consider affordable?
MCM: I know less is better than more taxation — lower taxation on property, water, sewer. (Vermonters have) the second largest state taxation in the country. We need to change that, we need to improve it. We need to reduce those taxes so we can stimulate the economy and jobs.
Pam Brown, ARC
RH: Tell me something about the ARC.
PB: It serves the Rutland-area community of disability people. We come to the office for physical therapy. We have a lady who does it. That’s Denise. And we have Heather — she’s one of the leaders for ARC. She holds the advocate meetings we have for the community, and plus, we have action club, too. We have our meetings here (at Godnick Center) every second Tuesday we have advocate meetings. Every fourth Tuesday we have the action club meeting. We do a lot of things in the community. We help older people, plus for Christmas, we adopt a family ... we do a lot of things for the community.
Kam Johnston, Rutland
The assessor has a rather unique role in that he has to do consistent and uniform evaluations. My primary objective would be: The guy’s been there for about 40 years, and I think we need change to get modernization and make sure that particular department is working well. I’m also fiscally conservative and want to make sure that the entire government works well, and so I would definitely put my 2 cents in to make sure that people were aware of issues that I thought were important and to bring balance to the discussion that when we talk about issues in front of city hall it’s usually that you’re for or against something, and I’m more about finding solutions. We need to work together, and we need to come up with great ideas.
See this week’s Street Talk video bit.ly/0309StreetTalk