WILMINGTON - Candidates vying for a seat on the Wilmington Selectboard answered questions posed by voters during a special Meet the Candidates/Pre-Town Meeting on Wednesday.
Rebecca Morris and Jacob White are running against each other for Tom Consolino's chair position, while Miller P. Longbothom is challenging Jim Burke for a two-year Selectboard seat.
The first question from voters had to do with Article 8, which asks voters if they'd like to support the Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategy group.
"Does research really get anything? I'm not sure," said Burke. "If we don't look, we don't study and we don't help ourselves. We have to take the gamble. We have to throw the dice."
Morris, whose sister Laura Sibilia is one of the program's directors, told the public that she supports SeVEDS.
"She's always at the state house and at schools," said Morris of her sister. "I don't know enough to specifically speak about what they're doing. But I do feel like any research, any progress, is moving forward."
"It seems to me to be a very small investment on our part to throw into the pot to help them along," Longbothom said.
White said that while serving on the Budget Committee, he supported it.
"It takes the right person at the right place, to bring somebody's attention to something," he said. "This is another good investment of money to accomplish that."
The candidates were then asked
"It's my personal belief that if we have a successful economy, the community is going to benefit from it," said Morris.
"Putting lights in the parking lot," Longbothom said as an example. "That's community. But is it going to help the stores? Yes, it probably will. So it's economic, too."
"I believe that (economic and community development) are almost the same," said White. "The one thing you don't want to do is take that money and reduce the taxes. You want to put that money into projects."
Burke told the residents he'd love to see every shop open in town and thriving.
"We need jobs. Sustainable jobs," said Burke. "We're losing our young. It's not the government's place to (come and make jobs), but it is government's job to help us research how we can do this."
Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Adam Grinold asked the candidates if they'd support using money from the 1 percent revenue to fund municipal projects like building a new police or fire station.
"The 1 percent is more for getting the town on its feet," said White. "If something happened to (those stations), that'd be a different story."
"We're not going to build (those stations) on the backs of taxpayers," said Burke. "There's special funding grants for that type of project."
Morris agreed with Burke on using grant money for those types of project.
Longbothom said that funding for those projects would likely come from a capital building fund.
Wilmington Development Review Chairwoman Nicki Steel asked how each candidate would feel about taking "an unpopular stand."
"The first responsibility is to make the best informed decision you can make on everything," said Burke. "The majority vote is the majority vote whether you agree or not."
"In this position, you have ample time to gain knowledge as to what an issue is and who it may be affecting," Morris said. "You should be able to talk with your board and the people in the town and be able to weigh all that information and make the best decision you can."
"I think that if I didn't want to do that, I wouldn't be here now," said Longbothom. "You have to expect late night calls, early morning calls, maybe irate ones, maybe not."
"You learn to make decisions quickly," White said of working on the fire department. "I've always seemed to be able to talk to generally just about everyone."
All the candidates seemed to agree on getting more support for Memorial Hall.
On March 5, the voters will decide which candidates are best fit to sit on the Selectboard.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or email@example.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.