Let’s Make Barre Brighter!
Welcome and Introductions
Welcome friends, to the first edition of our campaign newsletter! It is here that we hope to provide regular updates on our campaign to represent Barre City in the state legislature. I hope that this newsletter will also provide a medium to communicate policy positions and explore my campaign platform in depth, to make our work more accessible to the community. These newsletters will be shared out via email and will also be made available on www.forbarre.com.
Thanks for your continued support!
On Community Equity
One of the main reasons I am choosing to run for state office concerns my feelings on community equity. I define community equity as the fair treatment of groups of people. This treatment is regardless of their size, location, or other circumstance or condition. This is of particular relevance to Vermont and Barre City.
Many of the ways that the state provides support to communities, businesses, and nonprofits is through grant and loan programs. These usually involve applications that are a lot of work and research. On occasion, and especially for larger amounts of money, these applications involve dozens of pages of forms. I have developed many of these applications over the years working on behalf of communities and nonprofits across Vermont. The state manages these grants or loans with complicated and confusing websites that are difficult to navigate. Very rarely are any two forms the same across state programs.
In practical terms, this means that wealthier communities, who have trained staff and resources to devote to these applications (or those which are lucky and are able to rely on a talented volunteer pool) are better equipped to draw down large sums of state and federal money. The unintended result is that these towns are appropriated more money, attention, and support than smaller, poorer, often more rural communities.
At the same time, many of these programs are not responsive enough for our towns and cities. The Vermont Agency of Transportation, for example, does not currently operate a grant program that can award a town a sum of $5,000, or a similar amount. This is a modest, but very real amount of money for many communities—the equivalent of one or two speed radar signs. And yet, no such program exists. Towns must foot the bill themselves, incorporate a request for capital needs into a larger proposal, and wait, oftentimes years, for VTrans to fund their request. Meanwhile, the needs of Vermonters—for safer, healthier places to live, for thriving local economies—go unmet.
On occasion, state agencies will provide assistance to businesses and local governments in the form of grant writing consultation via the regional planning commissions or even state employees. But this is the equivalent of plugging a dam with a finger; it is a band-aid solution that is insufficient for the needs of our communities.
Too, it is uncommon that those who are best able to benefit from these state programs provide input into the creation, management, or award process for each program. This allows bias to creep into the process, and steers resources away from those who need it most.
It is my hope that in serving in the legislature, we can pass legislation supporting regular, independent audits of these state grant and loan programs and make them more equitable and fair.