Carroll seeks third term

BENNINGTON — Jim Carroll is seeking a third term on the Bennington Select Board.

"In my heart of hearts, I want to make Bennington a better place," he said in an interview this week. "Serving people and being on the Select Board is probably the proudest accomplishment of my life. I feel that I made a difference."

Carroll is one of three candidates vying for two three-year seats in next week's election. He faces fellow incumbent and acting vice chairman Donald Campbell, in addition to newcomer William H. Stewart.

Carroll was born and raised in Bennington before heading to New York City for work. He returned to Vermont in 2003. Known for his time serving up hotdogs and hamburgers at Jimmy Joe's Curbside Grill on Main Street, he was first elected to the seven-member board in 2012.

The Select Board will have an important role in the coming years, he noted. That includes overseeing the new tax increment financing (TIF) district.

Carroll said he's "not necessarily opposed" to a mayoral form of government. Voters next week will be asked to decide on that question by ballot measure.

"We need a good, long, thorough exploration of the different forms of a mayoral government," Carroll said. "It needs to be done in a very public way."

A pressing issues facing officials is keeping property taxes in check. Town staff and the board members, he said, "have done their best to keep it at low or level as we can."

Carroll said he's supported a one percent local option tax. A charter review committee had recommended allowing the Select Board to propose adding a one percent to the state sales tax (now 6 percent); the room and meals tax (each 9 percent), and/or the alcohol sales tax (10 percent). Carroll said that, after conversations with local business owners, he thinks the downtown should be excluded from the tax. It would be a burden on businesses, he said.

"We have a struggling downtown," he said. "If anything, we should make it easier for businesses."

Deferred maintenance on infrastructure, he said, costs taxpayers money in the long run. He said he'd watch for opportunities to avoid waiting for big projects.

The proposed $50 million-or-more redevelopment of the Putnam Block downtown would be key to boosting the downtown's economic vitality, he said. That public-private partnership, brought forward by a group of local investors, is something he'd like to see more of.

"If people have a good idea, it doesn't cost anything to bring it up," he said.

Carroll said he supports the re-establishment of a drug court as a "a better, smarter way" to help people awaiting trial for non-violent drug-related offenses. Such a specialty court for Bennington County has recently been discussed among local advocates as a treatment alternative to incarceration. Carroll said it also "makes fiscal sense."

The floor meeting will be held Monday at 7 p.m. in the River Street fire facility. Voting for local offices will take place Tuesday. Voting will take place at the firehouse. Residents of North Bennington vote at the village trustees' office on Depot Street. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Ed Damon can be reached at, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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