Jeff French was definitely not running for Hinesburg selectboard.
“As the seat became vacant, people suggested that I run,” he said “but I was on the planning commission and I have two young children at home. My wife, Anita, agreed that I should wait until they were older.”
That all changed when Chief Frank Koss announced his retirement from the Hinesburg Police Department.
“Anita told me I should run to make sure we hired a good replacement,” he said.
Originally from the Seattle area, French moved to Hinesburg in 2011, shortly after receiving an offer to work at GE Health Care. Anita was a graduate of Boston University and the couple had been looking for an opportunity for her to return to New England. French immediately threw himself into municipal life, chairing the Village Steering Committee, spending four years on the planning commission, and serving on the Water-Wastewater Allocation Committee.
Issues relating to water and wastewater are important to French.
“Hinesburg really has no water left,” he said, “and the state just came up with new regulations for stormwater and wastewater. We wanted to come up with positive, strategic ways to leverage water and wastewater allocation rather than first come, first served. Water is an asset, not a commodity.”
French wants to make sure Hinesburg’s regulations are strong enough to keep the community vibrant for the next 50 years. He believes his time on the planning commission will be an asset to his selectboard work since he is already familiar with the town’s regulations.
French’s career has taken some twists and turns. He was a history and political science major in college and worked for a music magazine and as a radio deejay.
“That was a really cool job,” he said, “but not a long-term career.”
French went back to school for an MBA in technology management. His timing was good because the dot-com field was beginning to grow. He currently works at Competitive Computing as a technical program manager.
French recognizes that Hinesburg has a number of short-term needs like a new police chief, a new ambulance service or contract, and new stormwater/wastewater regulations, but he wants to look beyond that.
“I want to make sure we look two steps ahead rather than be reactive,” the 48-year-old said. “Having a background in technology might help us look for new ways of doing things, rather than relying on how things have always been done.”
French is interested in issues like green energy and hopes new technology will help keep Hinesburg a healthy community.
French notes that Hinesburg has been divided for a long time over the proposed Hannaford supermarket and he wishes that was not the case.
“One of the big things we have to do is come back and do things that are community-based,” he said.
French lauded the new Lot 1 Committee for providing a forum to determine what people would like to see in that space.
“It’s one of those opportunities where people can come together rather than debate things that divide us,” he said.
French said he recognizes that many residents are passionate about the things they believe in and he hopes they can channel that.
“It would be great to see more people join committees or run for office,” he said.