Brattleboro Select Board Candidate

I am Jaki Reis and I am running for Select board here in Brattleboro. You may know me from the 22 years that I’ve lived and worked downtown. Maybe we met at Brown and Roberts, or at the Chamber or the River Gallery School, or at the Latchis Theater. I have been close to so many who know me as their neighbor, friend, and fellow volunteer.

I have gained a rich understanding of how we all live and the concerns and complaints that we all share. Like most of you, I love this town a great deal, and I’m happy to have a chance to contribute to the Select board in doing its job.

To do the job of balancing a town’s complex needs, it is necessary to have self awareness, some legal and financial background, a big dollop of good judgment and an understanding of the issues that are important to various people who live here . Good leadership requires breadth of listening, practical experience, and compassionate understanding. It is my intention to listen to all our different points of view, learn what is possible to do within the jurisdiction of the board and within the means of our town’s budget, apply my best efforts to accomplish those goals, and be as transparent as possible about those decisions.

My family is solid working class. I was a single mother, starting out on welfare, then going on to college. In Brattleboro I have worked as an assessor, realtor and building manager, interacting with hundreds of people inside their homes. During my years at the Latchis, I had that wonderful experience of recognizing my former students from Winston Prouty when they came to the movies. From this iconic building in the heart of town, I co-founded and am president of the board for the Brattleboro Film Festival. There are so many people in the arts in this town, and many are my friends. As an owner of a residential building, I have worked with and gotten to know all the people who have rented with me and all the many contractors who have kept my building safe, and comfortable.

The years of listening to and working with the diversity of people who live here has taught me that everyone’s voice deserves consideration. If we want to keep Brattleboro a safe, non-judgemental community, we have to listen to people with little money as well as people of privilege, the old people and the young people and the families, that is, to everyone in between and on the edges. It is my intention to listen to the people, and to their history, in order to find solutions to the problems that we all share and then be as transparent as possible about how those decisions are made.

One of the first issues I want to understand more deeply is the housing problem, which affects not only people who want or need a home here, but also affects our businesses who need housing for their employees. This is what I do know about, and want to find more about, the housing situation:
We have already done many good things here to help with housing.
We need to examine what ideas worked and why some didn’t, or couldn’t, work.
What can we do with financial help from the State?
What effects will the proposed state regulations have on our local housing providers and current renters?
How can we elicit more input from the community, for improving our housing problem?

Improving the housing situation means making more housing available, of course, but it also means making existing housing more safe, livable and accessible.

It is my intention to learn about and focus on all of the issues that come before the board, as well as I can, and be as transparent as possible about the process of how issues get resolved.

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