BRATTLEBORO — Select Board candidate Rikki Risatti plans to “prioritize agendas for enabling direct democratic practices, expanding decolonization, economic decentralization, and water testing and filtration accessibility to counter democide, conscription and imperialism.”
“My experiences have prepared me to respect the responsibilities of being a serious catalyst of adaptation and transformation within insane aspects of culture,” Risatti said. “I feel confident that change is inevitable, I am ready to confront challenges, and I haven’t seen the different candidates braving innovative directions nor communication skills for effective intersectional cofacilitation yet.”
Risatti, who uses they/them pronouns, is running for two seats on the board in the March 2 election — a three-year term and a one-year term. They face incumbent Ian Goodnow for the longer term and incumbent Daniel Quipp, Evan Chadwick, Kurt Daims, Jessica Callahan Gelter and Jackson Stein for one of the two one-year seats.
If elected to both positions, Risatti could only take one and the board would need to appoint someone to the other seat.
Risatti was elected as a Town Meeting member for 2020 to 2023, serves on the town’s Arts Committee and was on the town’s Americans with Disabilities Act Advisory Committee. Risatti said they also participated as a Vermont Supreme Court litigant for cases involving LGBTQAI+ advocacy, domestic abuse recovery, and houseless rehabilitation.
“Negotiations and fair hearing cases for anti gentrification and poverty prevention have mostly been dismissed by people in administrations whom are accustomed to upholding oppressive conditions,” they said.
Having attended Vermont Technical College to study sustainable management, Risatti described being the first student ever recorded to have a service animal on the campus.
On the March 2 ballot is an article asking voters if retail cannabis sales should be allowed in Brattleboro. Risatti said the article will deliver “an over authoritarian, micro management of peoples’ commercial freedoms.”
“We could decriminalize cannabis without the stress of extortionary licenses and taxation processes. As a novice cultivator and consumer prior to enrollment as a dispensary patient, I find farmers, retail employees and customers are exhausted by unnecessary and over complicated bureaucratic oversights,” Risatti said. “The proposal as presented adds the burden of government interference without the benefits of assuring the quality of and equitable accessibility to products. Cannabis was criminalized and regulated due to white peoples’ racist, capitalist, and ableist agendas without the intention nor result of ever protecting public health safety.”
In December, the Select Board voted 3-2 to update a housing ordinance to limit upfront costs a landlord can charge. Risatti said “classist disparity” served as the foundation of the ordinance.
“We need to resolve our economy with fair and livable basic income, wages starting at $25 an hour, universal health care coverage, and free education to give people the financial opportunity to overcome the overwhelming factors of poverty to prevent non affordability during times of crisis and unemployment,” Risatti said.
A recently completed community safety review included paying facilitators $40,000 to develop a report, with a committee getting $750 stipends for each member over a three-month period. They were “all too underpaid,” Risatti said, advocating for “competitive salaries” for those who take on service for the town.
“Expecting and relying on volunteerism consequentially excludes people not wealthy enough to donate time,” Risatti said. “Charitability has no commitment to accountability and is undependable.”
Risatti also advocates for making certified lab testing of water from the Vermont Department of Health and access to filtration systems available at fair prices; having shared laundry rooms with disposable gloves, antibacterial wipes and masks at low income rental properties; having hand sanitizers installed at entrances of community spaces and businesses; covering furniture under household trash removal in rent for low income housing; and allowing rent to be paid at the end of the month at a sliding scale cost after all living expenses and debts have been paid off.
Risatti is calling for Brattleboro to secede to become “a sovereign municipality” and renaming Brattleboro back to the indigenous Sokoki tribal address of Wantastegok, Sokwakik County, N’Dakinna, 05302 and 05301.
Risatti is pushing for the town to cover costs associated with updating the Civil War monument at the Common to add the names of 65 or more people of color and those missing due to their class with a new marker, a project that has been discussed at board meetings. Risatti also wants the monument to be included on the Vermont African American Heritage Trail.
Another project the candidate would like to undertake involves establishing a Reparations Department to help with the effort and get reparations to families. Risatti said 54 local people of color who were enlisted in military service in 1863 are owed $16,200 by the federal government in total for bounty contracts, which is now equivalent to about $331,862 or about $6,146 per family of descendants, or a local organization led by people of color if no surviving relatives accept payment.
Risatti is in favor of changing the Brattleboro Union High School’s mascot, believing the Colonel to be racist. A petition circulating last year sought the same goal.
Risatti wants to require and compensate all businesses and elected officials to maintain annual cultural inclusion training certifications. Another proposal involves offering office spaces for Town Meeting members and committee members in the Municipal Center.
Other projects Risatti seeks to accomplish include creating a publicly regulated municipal currency; adding more flashing lights activated by push buttons to crosswalks; turning 17 Canal St. into a public garden and playground; converting the space formerly home to Home Depot into affordable housing; putting the cucumber magnolia tree by Abbiati Monument on an annually published treasured local tree map and protecting it with historical preservation rights; establishing a hoarding intervention committee; adding fully operational public restrooms and dog waste stations in town; making bike lanes with car barriers; having free and environmentally sustainable 24/7 public transit; decriminalizing sex work; forming an incentive program to prevent further gas pollution; giving migrants equal citizen rights; investing in a space center; supporting green technology factories; and passing an anti-nuclear proliferation act and variation of the United Nation’s World Conference of the Durban Declaration Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.