Hello neighbors, you may already know that I am running (unopposed) for a three-year term to the selectboard. I wanted to introduce myself and, somewhat awkwardly, assure you that a vote for me is better than the alternative.
My family and I have lived in Shelburne since 2007. My wife, Sarah Nilsen, and I teach at UVM. I have been a lecturer in the Philosophy Department since 2007. Our children attended (or attend) the Shelburne Community School. Josh (17) is a senior at CVU and will attend UVM next year. Lena (15) is a sophomore and Samara (12) is a 7th grader. We have been actively involved in many town and school functions and affairs, taking full advantage of the many opportunities that living in Shelburne provides for civic and community engagement, from 4-H to sports, music, parades, the farmer’s market, Winterfest and pancake breakfasts at the firehouse. And if we haven’t yet met at one of these events, I hope that we will soon.
After living in town for a few years and feeling the need to give back, I decided to join the ethics committee in 2011, which has been at the center of some of the turmoil in town over the past few years. Serving on the ethics committee was a great education in town affairs and functions. I was able to learn about the various committees, boards and commissions and their functions, about the legislative authority for each, their relationship to our municipal government and the role of the town manager. I also have met and worked with many of the excellent staff and selfless volunteers that make Shelburne an amazing place to live. Working on the Ethics Committee also showed me that residents with diverse and different beliefs can advance the best interests of the town by finding common ground for collaboration and consensus.
Another event that was formative in my attitude toward life in Shelburne was my efforts to build a trail on town land, linking my neighborhood, Shelburne Heights, to Boulder Hill. Because I have had some experience with trail-building, I proposed this a neighborhood volunteer project to the selectboard in 2016 and there was some pushback in the neighborhood. After some trepidation, I decided to go door to door and collect signatures of support for the project and the response was overwhelmingly positive. And while the vast majority of the folks in these two neighborhoods supported the project, I found that even those who had reservations were respectful and measured in their responses and appreciated someone taking the time to discuss it with them. I discovered that Shelburne residents are thoughtful, concerned citizens who want to make their community a better place and appreciate people who are trying to do that. And that was inspiring. And after several weekends of neighbors volunteering their time, we have a nice trail through the woods.
And so, it is that approach that I will take to my service on the selectboard. I will approach issues in a thoughtful, even-tempered and respectful manner; I will use my training as a philosopher to think carefully and critically about the issues and make evidence-driven decisions that I think serve the best interests of Shelburne. I will promote transparency and due process in all matters and try to involve and engage as many representative perspectives as I can in a collaborative decision-making process on each issue that we consider. And so I am asking, if you share these values, for your vote for a seat on the selectboard.