Scoggins running for Shaftsbury House seat

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SHAFTSBURY — Tim Scoggins, who moved to Vermont eight years ago, said he wanted to jump into local political and community affairs, and he arguably has done that.

Scoggins is retired from Applied Research Labs of the University of Texas at Austin, where he worked as a data analyst and project manager and was employed for 25 years. Soon after moving to Shaftsbury, he said he plunged into a series of endeavors and began attending meetings.

He was involved in community efforts to lower the speed limit on Route 7A in the center of town, helped organize volunteers to repaint Shaftsbury Elementary School and served on a committee that planned the town's 250 anniversary celebration in 2011.

"I moved here in 2010 and immediately threw myself into community service, working at the school, teaching in afterschool school programs," he said.

After being appointed to the Select Board to fill a vacancy in 2013, Scoggins won another term in the following March election and now is chairman.

He also has served on local and regional committees pursuing economic development goals, and said he sees running for the Legislature as a continuation of those efforts.

Scoggins is seeking to replace longtime Rep. Alice Miller, D-Shaftsbury, who is retiring this year at the end of her 11th term.

"I want to run for the House because I want to keep serving the community," Scoggins said in the interview.

Living in Vermont has involved "some of the happiest years of my life," he said, "and I want to make sure this area stays vital and help in any way I can."

Scoggins is running as a Democrat and facing Shaftsbury and Mt. Anthony Union School District board member David Durfee in the Democratic Primary on Aug. 14.

At this point, no other candidates have entered the race, although independents have until Aug. 9 to file nomination papers for the Nov. 6 ballot.

"The economy is the big issue in Vermont," Scoggins said, "and I have been as active as I can be on the Select Board to promote economic development."

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Those efforts include supporting a proposed 22-unit Shires Housing project in Shaftsbury and his work as a member of the countywide Regional Economic Development Group that worked with Windham County officials toward creating a regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy.

He also supports the Scott administration's VOREC (Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative) program, and is a member of the Bennington County group formed to support that effort. He has worked uploading information on Bennington area hiking and other trails into the state's TrailFinder.info online system, seeing recreation an important stimulant for the local economy.

"I'm big into the outdoors, and I believe the outdoor assets are underutilized in terms of the economy in this area," he said.

Commenting on current state issues, Scoggins said "the budget impasse is, of course, troubling," adding that it "really seems that the governor is digging in his heels in a way that is not helpful at the moment."

Vermont school districts, he said, "have done what they can to control budgets, and have essentially been told that's not good enough, even though they did what they were told and exercised a lot of restraint."

Concerning Act 46, Scoggins said that, as soon as the law encouraging school district consolidations moved toward possible forced district mergers, he thought the proposed unification of Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union districts under a single board was the best course and offered both financial incentives and a greater degree of control over the formation of a new district.

He said he was a strong supporter of the proposal, which was approved in Shaftsbury and Benningon but failed when it was voted down in Pownal and Woodford. However, the Vermont education secretary's office last week recommended that public elementary districts in those four towns merge under a single district board.

Scoggins said he would favor that scenario with a district similar to the Mt. Anthony Union Middle/High School District, which has a regional board and a representation format that prevents Bennington from passing initiatives on its own without at least one other town supporting the area's largest district.

"I would try to get the state to adopt the MAU board model," he said.

Lived in Texas

Scoggins was born in Oklahoma and spent most of his life in Texas. He worked on underwater acoustics research involving Navy anti-submarine warfare at Applied Research Labs. Previously, he worked as a geophysicist with Shell Oil in oil exploration in the Western states.

He holds a bachelor of science degree in physics from Baylor University, graduating in 1978.

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont and VTDigger.org. Email: jtherrien@benningtonbanner.com. @BB_therrien on Twitter.


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