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To the Editor: Upcoming shortly are the town of Pownal elections. There are three seats on our Select Board to be filled. Three incumbents and two challengers are running for those seats.

As always, I think we must realize the sacrifices those who serve make, and extend a sincere thank you for their service. It is not an easy thing to serve in small town government and harder yet to receive criticism. But that’s what sets the good ones apart from the not-so-good ones; the ability to accept constructive criticism and respectful disagreement. However, the same thing applies to those doing the disagreeing and criticizing. It must be done respectfully and with malice towards none. I would guess that’s something ALL small town governments struggle with. But I think Pownal can do it.

I guess I’m like most Pownal citizens when I say there are things I love about our town and things that drive me crazy about our town. The things that drive me crazy are things that I see which hold us back from making our town even better than it is. And these things have been mostly neglected by the current Select Board.

Some examples would be, how is possible that you see the absolute worst of Pownal driving along RT 7 from Williamstown to Bennington? Where is zoning and zoning enforcement? In 1964, Justice Potter Stewart said during an obscenity case before the Supreme Court, he couldn’t define pornography, but, “I know it when I see it.” Well I kind of feel the same way about junkyards being allowed to masquerade as businesses along RT 7.

Why did our taxes go up so dramatically during this past year? What do we have to show for that?

Why with so many other pressing issues, i.e. the Town Hall Project, the constant fight over what to do with the former race track, whether or not to replace the voter approved position of town administrator, the troublesome financial audit; did this board get caught up in creating an ATV ordinance? Worse yet, why did this board vote unanimously have a special town-wide vote on their ATV proposal rather than just waiting two weeks to have it placed on the November ballot, thus costing the town the expense of mailing out ballots? Whether you were for it or against it, is not the issue I’m raising. Rather, it seemed to me to preoccupy the board and suck the oxygen out of more pressing issues.

Why, did this board move to remove the duly elected independent town auditors?

Why has this board had such a difficult time properly warning meetings and town votes throughout their tenure?

I think we need a change. I think we need to accept the fact that now in 2021, so many things prevent us from living as simply as we did years ago. Who among us saw the pandemic coming? Who among us can dispute the effect that technology and the internet have had on our lives? These are not simple times we live in and they will only get more complicated whether we like it or not. Rarely are things black or white, right or wrong anymore. Increasingly now issues have shades to them, where compromise should rule the day. This I believe has been the current Select Board’s biggest shortcoming. Failure to seek compromise and empower those who might disagree and shape a path forward together. Simply put, too much “I know what’s best.”

The real strength of Pownal is in its people. We are not all the same and that is a good thing. Some have lived here all their lives, while others have come here to retire, or as second-home owners. Some because of technology, no longer have to work in an office so have chosen to live in this beautiful part of Vermont and work remotely. We all have a voice and all voices matter. It just doesn’t seem to me that the present Select Board has welcomed or listened to, all points of view. Too many executive sessions, too little transparency.

I believe the best path forward for Pownal is to vote for Jenny Dewar and Mike Slattery for the Select Board. I think them the better choices to listen to and respect all sides of an issue, embrace technology and make sure all the boxes are checked before moving forward. I am greatly impressed with their honesty, intelligence and willingness to help.

To all candidates and past board members, thank you for your service, I for one appreciate the sacrifices you have made. Pownal is a great place to live and as it goes older let’s make sure it gets even better!

Thanks for listening,

Richard Williams,

Pownal


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