What do you want to accomplish on the Selectboard? (2-Year Seat Candidates)
Part 5 of 5. What should the Selectboard have on its agenda. See below for the question and answer of each candidate for the 2-year seat.
QQ: Other than the adoption of a town plan, what are several issues that you think the Town or Selectboard should or must address in the next 12 to 18 months? Why? Do you have any specifics on how to address?
Everything deserves attention but I am concerned about preparedness for the increasingly unpredictable and extreme weather. I also would like to examine the ways that Norwich can influence state government into adopting programs such as universal single payer healthcare that could significantly reduce the net costs of health insurance.
When I ask people why certain issues matter, and peel the onion a bit, it usually concerns what they genuinely care about preserving - close to heart and home. Additionally, they’re open to hearing the other side in order to make things work. Certain choices will impact our current circumstances as well as our future. Change is coming. I believe it’s better to step into the conversation. I don’t have all the answers, but I bring expertise, ideas, and a willingness to listen. How we engage with one another, build trust, and share in creating a thriving community is key.
a. Revision and adoption of Personnel Policies and Financial Policies. I believe we need to "de-couple" how union employees and non-union employees are compensated with regards to wage increases and benefits. Our current policy was written prior to the Affordable Care Act. Our Town Manager submitted a red lined revision to the board for review that addresses some of my concerns. To date, revisions recommended by Herb have not been addressed. Financial policies should be reviewed in some set time-frame, whether yearly or every other year.
b. Church Street sidewalk project. If the plan goes forward as it is currently designed, I believe the character of Church Street will be changed forever. Think of a NYC sidewalk from the church to Carpenter Street. For Church Street, continue to investigate how we can meet the safety and needs of the kids walking to school without turning Church Street into a suburban street with a 5 foot sidewalk. If the state says no to any proposal, cut the ties with the state and pay them back the money spent. Then we can come up with a plan for Norwich by Norwich.
c. Establish better communication strategies between the selectboard and town residents. Not everyone reads the Listserve, the newspaper, or the town website. For issues that might be contentious, I would like to see town wide mailings informing the public of the issue. I also think the selectboard should have develop a formal liaison with the schoolboard and have all town committees and commissions periodically submit or present their work to the board. We need to work to eliminate silo thinking. I do not think the town manager's report to the board provides this sharing of information.
d. Improve the Selectboard meeting process. Having sat through many meetings, I leave without a clear understanding of the action the board has decided to take, by whom, and in what time-frame. I would like to see the board review, preferably at the end of each discussion or at the end of the meeting, the final decision made so that each member and the public has a clear understanding of the decision. From attending the meetings, there seems to be material presented at meetings relevant to the discussion that have not been shared with the board members prior to the meeting. I would investigate how this process could be improved.
A Meet The Candidates Night, sponsored by the Norwich Women's Club, is scheduled for Tuesday, February 27 at Tracy Hall from 7 to 8:30.