It has been seven months since I announced my campaign to represent the people of Jamaica, Londonderry, Stratton, Weston and Winhall in the Vermont House of Representatives. Over the past several months, I have traveled extensively throughout the five towns in our district, meeting face to face with residents in their homes, at their businesses and in the community.
I would like to thank the many residents whom I have met along the way, particularly those whom were in the middle of something important when I dropped by. The feedback and insights I have gleaned from these visits has been invaluable, and will help shape my approach to representing our district, should I be elected.
I have heard a wide variety of concerns, challenges and ideas. These issues generally fall within three broad categories -- taxes, economic development and education.
I think we all agree that our education property tax system needs work. Act 60 and Act 68 are not going to be repealed any time soon, nor will there be any gimmicks that will solve this problem. But my experience as a CPA, a lister and former school board member has convinced me that some technical changes to the law -- like amending the way the CLA is calculated -- could have a significant impact in reducing education property taxes in our towns. I know how those fixes should work and I will lead the charge to make this effort a priority.
There is no question that we need to build a better, stronger and more diversified economy in our region. Many people I have spoken with are working part-time, or working multiple jobs to make ends meet -- a story that our state's unemployment figures don't tell. And a number of local small businesses are still struggling to regain their footing after Tropical Storm Irene.
We need to tackle the issue of how Vermont manages economic development incentives. Many of the current programs are overly complex and out of scale for the kind of small businesses that we have in our region. We need to look at incentive programs that are accessible and better aligned to the needs of small businesses.
We need to look at ways to boost the state's marketing investment in our region. Recognizing that more populous regions of the state have intrinsic benefits that give them an economic advantage (like density of resources), I will fight for a bigger share of marketing investment that the state spends to promote Vermont as a travel destination.
We also need to be thinking long-term about shoring up our economic foundation, which starts by making higher education more affordable and more accessible to those who live in more rural areas of the state. Business leaders and economic development experts agree that availability of quality post-secondary education is a key enabler of any vibrant economy. That doesn't necessarily mean that we need to expand college campuses. With increasing availability of broadband Internet, we can use technology to make educational opportunities more widely available across our state -- at a lower cost -- something I will push for.
Speaking of broadband, this is something that we should view as a critical component of our state's economic infrastructure -- just as roads and bridges define our transportation infrastructure. We need to continue to build on the efforts underway to deploy middle-mile and last-mile Internet access to rural areas of Vermont -- but do so in a manner that ensures continued investment and upgrades of this important economic infrastructure to ensure that we don't fall behind.
If elected, I will bring a unique and meaningful combination of experience and resources to representing our district. I'm born and bred on a Weston dairy farm; a veteran of Vietnam; and a CPA with many years of experience as a lister, planning commission member, school board member and regional planning representative.
I care deeply about what happens to our area -- I've put my time and talents to work in that service. As an independent, I'm proud to have earned the support of Republican, Independent and Democratic legislators, but most importantly, I hope to earn your support and your vote next Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Incidentally, on Election Day, I pledge to honor a time-honored tradition in our district of allowing the voters to cast their ballots in peace. That means you won't find me (or anyone working on my behalf) campaigning outside the polls.
Tim Goodwin writes from Weston.