Daniel Quipp is an incumbent and running for a one year seat on the Brattleboro Selectboard.
Tell us about yourself….
I’m a 42 year old person with a funny accent who has lived in Brattleboro since 2015. My wife is from Newfane and I’ve been coming here since 2004. I work at SEVCA where I run our community solar program, help people get connected to resources, do work with our data and reporting system and assist people in getting health insurance (p.s. If you don’t currently have insurance email me at email@example.com or call 802 254 2795). I’ve been on the Selectboard for the last two years and am hopeful you’ll allow me to serve the town for another year.
Why are you running again for a 1 year seat on the Brattleboro Selectboard?
I’m proud of what we’ve achieved on the Selectboard during my last two one-year terms and would like to be given a chance to build on that work for one more year. As this year has shown a lot can happen in 12 months!
Are there any specific issues you are concerned about and want to work on as a returning board member?
Taking action on the community safety review’s recommendations in partnership with the Town Manager’s office and Police Department leadership.
Continuing to work on housing affordability, access, supply
Making sure that the new town website increases transparency, access, and engagement
Ensuring a smooth transition to a legal, regulated and safe local retail cannabis market
Has Brattleboro been heading in a good direction in your time on the board? What’s your vision for the future of the town?
During the two years that I have been on the Selectboard we have made a number of decisions that have been good for the people of Brattleboro. In my last term I’m proud of our leadership during the Covid pandemic, in particular the mask order that I championed in May, several months before a statewide mask mandate. The discussion that we had around this makes for interesting watching and can be found here. During the pandemic we also found a way forward on two complex and contentious issues – the police budget and the call to abolish/defund/reform policing, and how to best improve housing affordability for renters. I want our town to be a place where all can thrive.
Recent zoom meetings have been very long. Is this good for decisions and discussions?
The increased level of public participation and the complexity of some of the issues we’ve been asked to work on this year have been contributing factors to longer meetings. While these meetings have been gruelling and at times we have had to move other more conventional Town business to a separate meeting, I feel that the meetings have been as long as they needed to be. Facilitating these online meetings is more challenging and I think that for the most part Tim has done a good job and we’ve appreciated the support of Assistant Town Manager, Patrick Moreland behind the scenes. A few months back Town Manager, Peter Elwell suggested we try a consent agenda for very uncontroversial routine business such as accepting and appropriating grants and that has worked pretty well so far.
I think it’s been important for us to hear a multitude of perspectives and experiences on questions such as whether to adopt the FY 21 budget, whether to pass the ordinance limiting move-in costs for tenants and what a police review process should look like. I know that at times we’ve probably frustrated and infuriated people on different sides of these issues but I don’t think shorter meetings and less discussion would have been the answer. The five Selectboard members have to find their way forward and this usually takes a lot of listening and discussing in public. It’s probably worth reminding folks that more than two of us cannot meet privately to discuss Town business as that would violate open-meeting law so what people see in a meeting is the five of us grappling with our own personal positions on these questions and reacting to the public and Selectboard’s comments. It’s not always smooth and easy but it’s how the sausage gets made when your body is only five people instead of a body the size of the state legislature or Congress.
Some major items were split decisions last year (rent, safety…). How important is unanimity?
I think the most important thing is that the will of the majority of the Selectboard is well understood by the Town Manager. That means clear direction from at least three people. If we have that from five people then great but it’s not essential.
In the coming year the board will be tasked with implementing some or all of the community safety recommendations. Thoughts? Do any of the recommendations bother you? Are there any you really want to see implemented immediately?
I am proud that the community safety review happened and I think the report provides a potential roadmap for change. The Selectboard and Town Manager can use it to bring about change informed by people who have been on the receiving end of community safety services. At time of writing the report and its recommendations have been handed over to the Town Manager and Acting Police Chief and we expect to have further talks on how to proceed at the Selectboard meeting on March 2nd. I am keen to get the work started to implement those recommendations which can be adopted immediately. In my mind this includes things that the Police Department can begin work on right away such as:
Deeply analyze racial disparities in traffic stop data,
Review Project Care impact and outcomes,
Continue Brattleboro PD’s commitment to refuse militarized equipment,
Continue Brattleboro PD’s commitment to Fair and Impartial Policing,
Address gap in reporting race data in traffic stops and all data collection”
Other recommendations will require more investment, collaboration, research and capacity building and will therefore take longer to implement but I believe are worth doing. Some examples of these include:
Address gap in graphic mapping data—obtain functionality to map police contacts and develop a plan to capture and review these data to better analyze and be accountable to geographic data to reduce over-policing of identified neighborhood
Disband the CPCC and hold a process centering and compensating people of color leadership to determine the best mechanisms for systemic accountability.
Invest resources in new and existing programs that respondents identified as the most helpful to their safety, such as mutual aid support networks, BIPOC run programs, local organizations that provide voluntary support, and places for belonging and connection that are decoupled from policing.
Review and consider models for totally voluntary and noncoercive supports run by the communities they are designed to support, in the form of neurodivergent, psychiatrically labeled, psychiatrically disabled, mad, and psychiatric survivor led mobile ready response, a crisis/freak out space, and unlocked, homelike crisis beds. Work collaboratively toward implementation of alternative mental health supports.
Review and consider models for neighborhood and community training around de-escalation, holding space, and directly supporting those in distress, NOT training that advocates for calling in authorities or assessors or that bring people into more contact with police or mental health crisis response. Invest in neighborhood and community groups developing these skills.
Work to decouple police from welfare checks.
Invest in community sponsored mutual aid and skill sharing.
Invest in restorative justice practices at all levels, especially at the neighborhood level.
Who was your best teacher and what did they teach you?
I was actually a teacher myself for a decade. During that time I’ve had many inspiring mentors who taught me creativity, humility, flexibility and resilience. Shout out to:
Michelle Nelson, Leslie Todd and Sarah Newman in Brattleboro
Audrey Sager, Matt Bristol and Stacey Frazer in Putney
Keneshia MacDonald, Kerry Esty, Mr. Kevin, Casey Moore and Keisha Rattray in Brooklyn
Munira Said, Sabiha Rehana and Tracy Martin in London
COVID. How well is the town holding up? Anything we should worry about?
Considering the size of the town and our position as a destination we’ve had a lower number of cases than we might have (we are the 7th largest municipality by population and have the 12th largest total number of cases as of 2/13/21) but we are far from being out of the woods yet. Town operations have been maintained in a way that delivers a good level of service and keeps staff and residents safe. I think that we all need to keep on doing what we know works to prevent the spread of the virus, get the vaccine when it’s our turn and continue to take care of our loved ones, neighbors and local businesses. I encourage people who need support to visit https://www.vermont211.org/ and get connected with the many local and regional organizations and programs that can help.
Does Brattleboro’s system of government allow for equal and full access by everyone in town? Is everyone represented? What could be improved?
I suppose that is always the challenge of a representative democracy. Certainly anyone who is eligible can, in theory, run for office, apply to join a committee or show up to a public meeting. Of course there are structural impediments to actually doing so and we need to continue to eliminate those barriers. Things like providing childcare at meetings, allowing remote access to in-person meetings, offering stipends for committee members and actively doing outreach to residents to make them aware of opportunities for public service, input etc. are essential and I believe that we can do more.
In some RTM towns, RTM reps – not selectboard members – create the budget with Town staff. Would this be a worthy experiment for Brattleboro?
I think that the work staff does on the budget and the nine or so Selectboard meetings we hold to review each part of the budget provide enough input. The RTM finance committee also does a very good job of providing oversight and exploring issues. RTM has the final say on the budget of course.
Who or what inspires you?
My fellow Selectboard members, our Town Manager, our local legislators and all of our town and regions’s amazing community organizers.
Have any hobbies or special interests at the moment?
I’ve been quite keen on tennis for the last year or so.
Is there anything voters should know that we didn’t ask about?
There are several articles on the ballot that need your attention!
Do you want to see retail cannabis in Brattleboro? (I voted ‘yes’)
Do you want to allow the town to adopt charter changes other municipalities have already been authorized by the State to adopt? (Also, ‘yes’)
Do you want to allow the town schools to leave the Windham Southeast School District? (I voted ‘no’ and wish there was more information out there for voters. An interesting discussion here.)
Do you want to allow the other member towns in the Windham Southeast School District to leave as well? (I also voted, ‘no’.)
If people want to know more, what’s the best way to contact you?