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Opinion: Addition of women to Middlebury selectboard backed

Through my work over the past year as a public official in Middlebury, it has become abundantly clear to me that many in people in power in our town are unwilling to respect or include the voices of women in their work. Our selectboard has rarely included more than one woman among its ranks, and many times that lone woman has been shut out of deliberations. Women in leadership positions in Middlebury are often treated with disdain or simply ignored.
For our town to survive and thrive in the 21st century, we need to include more diverse voices and ideas. We need to elect and support more women in leadership positions. Women leaders are inclusive, collaborative and community-minded. Women work toward the greater good for children, youth, families and seniors. Women leaders think big picture and long term. Women lead with respect, transparency and integrity.
We now have an opportunity to increase the number of women in our town government by electing Heather Seeley and Laura Asermily to the Middlebury selectboard.
I have known Heather for nearly five years, since our sons started nursery school together in East Middlebury. We have volunteered together for our sons’ class and exchanged play dates and recipes. I have bought her family’s maple syrup and shared stories at our local CSA. When Heather saw that our town was in trouble this year, she jumped at the chance to serve. Heather Seeley is a woman of integrity, who will work extremely hard for the citizens of Middlebury.
Heather is smart and has quickly come up to speed on the complex issues facing Middlebury. Heather listens and thoughtfully considers the many angles of an issue, and will courageously act to do what is best for our town. As a business woman and mother of young children, Heather understands the multiple pressures and opportunities families face, and would be a strong advocate for working families and children. She would bring creative ideas, pragmatic leadership and common sense to the table. Heather is deeply committed to the history, economy and natural resources of our town, and would work hard to preserve them for the benefit of us all.
I met Laura through her work at the food co-op, and have gotten to know her well through our mutual work with the Safe Routes to School committee. Laura and I have shared many long conversations about our town over my kitchen table, at the school library, or across the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op cash register. I am impressed by Laura’s genuine sense of humor and willingness to think outside the box (or inside a banana suit!). Laura Asermily is a woman of honest convictions who is deeply committed to working for the greater good of our town.
Laura’s contributions to energy independence and conservation in Middlebury are impressive. She is able to bring people on board with good humor and innovative approaches. Laura is thorough and collaborative, able to move ideas forward with dedication and strength. Laura is an exceptional community advocate, who firmly believes that everyone should have a voice and an opportunity. As a former teacher, Laura has a deep commitment to intergenerational inclusion, and goes out of her way to ensure that everyone feels comfortable contributing ideas and voicing concerns. Laura is thoughtful, and always listens to and welcomes new ideas.
The Middlebury selectboard needs new leadership and more diverse voices represented at the table. We need leaders who are respectful, innovative and representative of a broader spectrum of our community. We need leaders who will work collaboratively and transparently with others for the greater good of the entire community. We need leaders who are strong, intelligent women like Heather Seeley and Laura Asermily.
Ruth Hardy
East Middlebury

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