Daniel Quipp, and incumbent, is running for a a one year seat on the selectboard.
Tell everyone a bit about yourself… who are you?
Like many people around here, I wear a few different hats. Obviously, one of these is my Selectboard hat. I hope to earn the voters’ trust to wear it for another year. I have two jobs – I work for SEVCA and help people keep their lights on and homes heated through our crisis fuel program and I work as a community organizer in southern Vermont for Vermont Interfaith Action. I also wear my community radio hat. I’m currently the president of the WVEW 107.7 FM board and also host a weekly show playing new alternative music called ‘Brand Spanking New’ (Thurs, 6 to 8 pm). When I’m not doing one of those things I’m probably either hanging out with my wife, eating sandwiches at Amy’s, playing tennis or reading and drinking warm beverages.
Do you have any special powers or skills to offer?
I think I’m a thoughtful and compassionate person who cares deeply about our community and works well with others.
Why are you running for Selectboard? Anything special you’d like to accomplish?
I want to build on my first year on the board and continue to contribute to making our town a place where everyone can thrive.
I’m proud of our accomplishments during the last year such as establishing funding for Project CARE and the Work Today program, contributing towards the Groundworks and Red Clover Commons 2 developments, creating and hiring the Town’s first sustainability coordinator, and ensuring equitable pay for all town staff. If re-elected I’d like to continue to use a harm reduction approach to the opioid crisis, collaborate with others to continue to address our lack of affordable housing, work with the sustainability coordinator to plan for getting off fossil fuels, invest in public spaces, public health, and public bathrooms, and make sure that we have a town where people can walk and cycle safely.
In general, how do you think about a problem that needs solving? What’s your process for figuring something out?
I do my homework! I talk with our town staff about the issue along with members of our community who are already working on whatever the issue is. I also read and do my own research to be as informed as possible.
Tell us about Brattleboro in terms of it being:
In some ways we’re pretty sustainable. We have weekly compost pick up, a walkable and bike-able town (if you don’t mind hills), three great farmer’s markets, numerous environmental groups, a great trail network, and a healthy democracy. But… we also have a pretty old housing stock that is drafty and mostly heated by oil and propane and car-centered transportation infrastructure. So, y’know we have some work to do.
Like the rest of the country, we have a good deal of income inequality here. Lower-income families have fewer opportunities and less of a safety net than their more well-off neighbors. Too many of the jobs in the area don’t pay well enough and have benefits. We also have a bunch of organizations that are doing great work to redress some of the inequities. The Windham County Dental Clinic is a great example of this, as is Foodworks on Canal St.
We are not a super diverse place in terms of race and ethnicity. We are a welcoming place for the most part and I think that the growing queer community is an example of how Brattleboro is becoming more diverse.
I think this is our big challenge. The governor talks a lot about making Vermont affordable and then vetoes minimum wage increases and introducing paid family and medical leave. In Brattleboro, we have about 50% of households renting with an almost non-existent vacancy rate. Rent makes up far too large a percentage of household expenses and wages for many jobs are too low. On the other hand for those families with two incomes buying a home is more achievable here than in other nearby cities. My wife and I moved here from Brooklyn five years ago and were able to scrape up just enough for a small deposit on a modest home in a nice neighborhood.
Despite a lot of good work on the issue, opioids are still a major issue for the community. Thoughts? What else can we do?
Keep working on harm reduction strategies. The Town is already doing good work through Project CARE to follow up with people after an overdose and be proactive with vulnerable populations. As a community, we need to keep supporting organizations like Turning Point and the Aids Project of Southern Vermont. I’m excited to see what will come out of the CoSU group’s work. There are also groups working on street medic training and mutual aid.
How do you think Brattleboro should handle the sale of legal marijuana in the coming year(s)?
I’m hopeful that the eventual legislation will give towns a fair share of the revenue from legalization and that we will be thoughtful about licensing and locations of retailers.
What should Brattleboro do regarding the implementation of 5G networks?
I’m not concerned about the growth of 5G networks.
What are your thoughts on municipal broadband now that some options have been presented?
We kicked the idea around for a few board meetings. Town staff did some good research and I think we made the right decision to stay involved in the Communications Union District planning. As I see it there’s a huge risk in the town becoming an internet utility provider and a real danger of the taxpayers being stranded with considerable debt. That being said, if we were to find a way forward that would create an affordable, high-quality and equitable system I’d be open for revisiting the idea.
There are a lot of expensive repairs and purchases planned for Brattleboro’s future, and taxes continue to rise. Do you see a breaking point for the taxpayers? Is there any program or service that should be cut or privatized?
I’m guessing that you’re referring to a potential bond issue in FY23. You can find projected costs and timelines for capital projects here, capital equipment replacement plans here and the long term financial plan here.
I think that the town manager and department heads have made sensible recommendations for maintenance, replacements, and upgrades to buildings and equipment. I think that planning ahead and doing what we can each year to try and catch up with much-needed work is good for the town and should help us avoid losses of service in the event of equipment and building failures. During the budget cycle, all of this (and more) gets reviewed and balanced to make sure that we are not putting too much pressure on taxpayers whilst still maintaining a high level of service.
I’m not in favor of cutting or privatizing any of our current programs or services.
Should Brattleboro return to an Open Town Meeting where anyone can attend? Why or why not?
I’d definitely be open to it. More democracy is always a good thing!
Do you have any second thoughts about how you/the board handled the climate emergency request? Is Brattleboro really doing all that it can do? (Bonus: – Why is there still a Weigher of Coal?)
I think that we did the right thing. The part of the declaration that called for emergency ordinances to be enacted seemed like a way of by-passing our town government and the suggestions that I heard from the proposer (a no driving day for example) didn’t seem like something an emergency ordinance was designed to achieve. I think that the sustainability coordinator decision is far more likely to have an impact on Brattleboro’s climate policy than this declaration.
I actually met Ryan, the weigher of coal, the other day. He hasn’t been over-burdened with work (or a scale, or advice on how to do the job…).
What’s the best meal you ever had?
Butter chicken, saag paneer, patina lamb and machi masala from Mother India’s Cafe in Glasgow, Scotland.
Are there any questions you’d like to answer that we haven’t asked you?
What do I think about the article about moving to a mayoral system of government?
I’m not in favor of it. I think it’d create too much executive power, would most likely lead to the loss of our town manager, would introduce political ideology into the daily operations of the town and could lead us down a road where we lose town meeting as well. Plus the wording of the article which is supposed to advise the board doesn’t actually provide much advice at all.
Thanks for spending time with iBrattleboro.