Phil Kramer is running for a 1 year seat on the Brattleboro Selectboard. Here are his responses to our questions.
Why do you want to be on the Selectboard this year?
I am running for selectboard at this time because I want to make a difference. These are trying times for our community, our country and our world. The decisions we make today will have a lasting impact on the future. I have a vision of what direction Brattleboro should be moving. Over the years I have gained a great deal of insight into the spirit of this town and the way things work.
I have been running my private practice, Brattleboro Orthotics and Prosthetics, here in town for 20 years. Running this practice has given me the understanding of what it takes to run a business in this town. More than that, the nature of my practice, has given me great insights. My work is to problem solve so that I can make devices that help diminish the impact of physical disabilities. This creative problem solving has extended into many realms, and I intend to bring this skill to our town as we move to the future. I have also worked here in town as a Pharmacist for many of the last 20 years, and the knowledge and skill I have gained form that role have provided me with many gifts.
Why run for the 1 year seat?
I have chosen the 1 year seat so that both the voters and I can both get a sense of how good a fit that I am on the selectboard.
Tell us about issues that interest you… what would you like to accomplish?
Downtown Brattleboro has much to offer, but is incomplete. A town like Brattleboro would benefit by having a college energy in the downtown area. Students and faculty bring a fresh and optimistic energy that can help vitalize our town. I am excited that the Brooks Building will be housing both Community College of Vermont and Vermont Technical College. I see Brattleboro as a perfect location for a residential college or university. As a member of the selectboard I would investigate the feasibility of this idea.
Brattleboro can also use more spaces where people can connect with others. The skate park is a good idea, this town needs a place where kids can have fun. I would love to see a downtown community garden, perhaps by the train station. People could garden there with a view of the Connecticut river. I would like to take advantage of the river. A person could visit Brattleboro and never realize that it is even on the river. I would like to improve access to the river both from the land by the train station and from the river garden.
What about Brattleboro do you feel is unique and worth preserving?
I love the small town feel that Brattleboro has. It is a town with a huge heart. I see people supporting people. I also see an angry energy that lives here. This has the possibility of disrupting our serenity. We have seen violence in our community and we need to be responsive to this energy. I have been on the Reparative Justice Panel for a few years and have seen how important it is to listen to people. I have also seen how well compassion works for people facing adversity.
What are some short term issues facing Brattleboro? What are some of the long term issues you see?
There are many short term issues facing our community; pedestrian safety, traffic patterns, the skate park placement, taxes, fire and police upgrades, the archery building and many more. These are complex issues that require much thought and community input.
The long term problems include the need for more responsible business in town, more affordable housing and how to maintain the spirit of this town that drew me here over 20 years ago.
In your view, what does an aging population mean for Brattleboro?
An aging population in Brattleboro means that there will be a need for supportive services and housing for these people, but is also means that we have a great resource of wisdom and experience. Organizations such as RSVP, the Senior Center and others can help Brattleboro tap into the gifts the elderly offer.
Do we have enough housing and resources for people of limited means?
Housing is a problem here in Brattleboro, especially for those of limited means. There is very little space in town for homeless families. Many people find temporary housing in hotels on Putney Road at great expense, and challenging living conditions. There is very little transitional housing in Brattleboro for people trying to reenter the community. We need to increase the availability of housing for these populations in our town. Building and renovating properties can also provide employment for the many talented craftspersons locally.
What are your feelings on the proposed $14 million Police-Fire Facility project? Less than 100 Town Meeting Representatives approved such spending – is that a fair reflection of the will of Brattleboro taxpayers?
I feel that the Fire-Police bond did not move through the approval process with enough public input. With such a massive financial project the individuals in the town should be solicited for their input. Perhaps there should be a ballot question for such large projects so that the voters would get a chance to voice their opinions. I feel that this funding was approved with a minimum of town support.
What do you think should be done with the River Garden?
The River Garden is a challenging question. It is a privately owned property and to the best of my knowledge the selectboard at this time has no legal standing in determining it’s fate. My desire is that it continue to be a resource for the people of Brattleboro, another gateway to the Connecticut River. As a selectman I would do all that I could to keep it as a public resource.
What’s the best way for citizens to express their thoughts to the Selectboard?
There are many ways to connect with the selectboard. Coming to meetings, telephone and email are all effective methods. The best method depends on the individual reaching out.
Thanks for taking time with iBrattleboro!