Ian Goodnow is running for a one-year seat on the Brattleboro Selectboard.
Tell everyone a bit about yourself… who are you?
My name is Ian Goodnow. I grew up in Essex, Vermont and graduated from the University of Vermont in 2014, with degrees in Political Science and Russian Language. I’m currently enrolled in the Vermont Law Office Study Program, which is an alternative way to become a lawyer in Vermont. Instead of law school, I moved to Brattleboro to study under Tom Costello at Costello, Valente and Gentry P.C. I am also a Justice of the Peace and through that role serve on the Board of Civil Authority and am the alternate on the Developmental Review Board. In my free time, I love backpacking, eating dumplings with Ruth, my fiancee, and talking about movies.
Do you have any special powers or skills to offer?
My low-key super power is winning at board games. As far as the Selectboard goes, though, I’d say my greatest strength is my capacity for empathy. My job makes me put myself in others’ shoes, which constantly reminds me to be patient and listen carefully.
Why are you running for selectboard? Anything special you’d like to accomplish?
I am running for Selectboard because I want to serve my town and my state. After some time away, I returned to Vermont because I realized that I wanted to start a career and a family here. My perspective, of a young professional trying to make a life in Brattleboro, is not currently represented on the Selectboard, but is a perspective I feel is increasingly important to our community and economy.
In general, how do you think about a problem that needs solving? What’s your process for figuring something out?
When considering a problem, I always try to take a step back and review any assumptions or conclusions I might be jumping to before reviewing the facts. Being aware of the biases we all have can really help to move a conversation forward with compassion. I believe that most miscommunication and ineffective problem solving can be fixed with this simple step.
Tell us about Brattleboro in terms of it being:
I am excited to work with our new Sustainability Coordinator, Stephen Dotson. Brattleboro already does a lot to think and work towards sustainability goals. I’d like to support means of transportation other than personal cars in town, like making our bike lanes and crosswalks safer and helping more people choose the bus as a viable alternative to driving.
Income inequality is clearly an issue in Brattleboro (and the rest of this country). Lower income families have limited opportunities, and I feel this issue does not get the same attention as other topics on this list. Brattleboro needs to make itself attractive for businesses who can provide livable wages and benefits for all Brattleboro citizens. This means advertising and expanding our small business loans and supporting the municipal broadband initiative.
I’d like Brattleboro town job openings to be more widely posted, to touch more populations of people and thereby increase diversity in local government. While it’s obvious that Vermont isn’t very racially diverse, there are other types of diversity that are important to consider, such as economic disparity and age. I support the diversity training that I know is already occurring in our town offices.
Vermont is not affordable for many people, especially younger people who don’t have a foundation of support and a well paying job to reinvest in this community. I think changing this starts with not raising the property tax, looking for ways to support new home buyers, and incentivizing businesses to pay livable wages.
Despite a lot of good work on the issue, opioids are still a major issue for the community. Thoughts? What else can we do?
This challenge is not going to be solved by any single board or group. We need to continue to support the collaborations that are already taking place among our many dedicated and active community agencies. Specifically, I’m excited to support the funding of Project CARE.
How do you think Brattleboro should handle the sale of legal marijuana in the coming year(s)?
I support the sale of legal marijuana in our town. It is a major potential revenue stream that could help address many of the social initiatives being discussed here.
What should Brattleboro do regarding the implementation of 5G networks?
Personally, I believe internet access is a human right. If 5G can help Brattleboro realize this right for its residents, then I am open to its implementation.
What are your thoughts on municipal broadband now that some options have been presented?
I support municipal broadband, which can bring higher speed internet to underserved residents in Brattleboro. There’s been a lot of research done recently that participating in a Regional Communications District could reduce the financial risk associated with installation. I’m eager to learn more about this, and encourage everyone to take the Windham Regional Broadband survey at windhamregional.org/broadband.
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?
No, I don’t believe services should be cut or privatized. Taxes are high in Vermont — we cannot raise property taxes anymore. I’d like us to be critical of whether the investments we are making are paying off year to year. For example, funding Project Care for $16,000 this year was the minimum they requested. I’m eager to review their progress, and find them more funds based on real data for next year. Additionally I’m excited to review the sustainability coordinator position after a year to see what real accomplishments the position has achieved.
Should Brattleboro return to an Open Town Meeting where anyone can attend? Why or why not?
Yes, I support the move to an open town meeting. If people only had to show up on Town Meeting Day, more community members would be represented.
Last year the board declined to declare a climate emergency. Do you agree that Brattleboro is doing enough already regarding climate change? If not, what else could be done?
I agree with declining to declare the climate emergency, though of course I agree we and the world are facing an environmental crisis in climate change. The board found a creative compromise in appointing a Sustainability Coordinator. There are many opportunities in town to improve sustainability, including changing heating fuels in municipal buildings and improving public transportation.
What’s the best meal you ever had?
I just got to eat a dozen raw oysters for my birthday!
Are there any questions you’d like to answer that we haven’t asked you?
This may be obvious, since I’m running for Selectboard, but I don’t think Brattleboro needs a mayor.
I encourage everyone to get out and vote at the Legion on March 3rd!
Thanks for spending time with iBrattleboro.