Leah Romano: Responses To Selectboard Candidate Questionnaire

Submitted 9 months ago
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Running for 2-year seat

Leah Romano is running for the 2-year Selectboard seat. Her responses to the five-question mini questionnaire are below. The responses of her opponents Robert Gere and Claudette Brochu are here and here

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1. The Valley News published a column by Jim Kenyon on January 28, 2018 about Selectboard members attending meetings via video chat. Some Norwich residents prefer in person attendance by public officials, even though electronic attendance is allowed by statute. Question: Absent unforeseen circumstances, do you plan to attend in person all or almost all regular and special Selectboard meetings?

I believe in-person attendance is important for public officials and, if elected, I plan to attend in person as much as possible (and that may be all the time). I also support the use of tele/video conferencing. I work with tele/video conferencing as part of my job and think when done well with proper tools and guidelines, this can be a resource that bridges obstacles and continues momentum. There are advantages and disadvantages to consider as Jim Kenyon’s column presents. 

2. On January 10, 2018, the Selectboard voted to recommend to the voters a FYE 2019 Town budget of $4,502,386. Questions: How would you have voted at that meeting on that budget?  Why?  

There are several things to consider when reviewing a budget, including the actual and previous year numbers, projections, exceptions, compromises, etc. I’ve reviewed the budget and the minutes (topics including DPW, listers, % increase, etc.). To the best of my knowledge, and taken all into account, I would have most likely approved the budget. I say this with the hope and understanding that ample time is given to prepare, review, discuss, and possibly amend a budget. Some people in town have expressed to me a concern with what feels like a trend of increases. I’d certainly take those concerns into consideration. 

3. Multiple Choice Question: What would you like to see happen to the population of Norwich?   Please select one and if you want, explain your choice.
A. Reduced significantly
B. Reduced some
C. Remain relatively stable
D. Grow some
E. Grow significantly

Our population ebbs and flows with graduations, climate, industry, life stages, etc.. We have an opportunity to prepare for change. With my work (for a startup, in the arts, and in international education), I know the benefit of sharing diverse perspectives. I’d like to see the population of Norwich support more diversity and grow some (answer D). That change would take time and planning; occurring slowly. By being thoughtful in process and design, we can compile the necessary input to foster the progress of our town and the impact on neighboring areas. 

4. Question:  What are your views regarding the possible establishment of a new mixed use zoning district in the Route 5 South and River Road areas?

I’m in favor of investigating options for a sustainable future. Mixed use is one such option. Norwich is rich in land and I support the impulse to protect it. We also rely on our neighboring towns for employment and some services which is why I agree with seeking win-win solutions. Pursuant to proper infrastructure availability (e.g. sewage), I support smart growth development practices (when good for the economy, community and the environment.). 

5.  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?

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.

Photo is screenshot from CATV video of Norwich Candidates Night 2/27/18. Watch that video on the CATV website by clicking here.        


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