Letter to the editor: Bristol board member tries to give back

My name is Michelle Perlee. I was elected to serve on the Bristol selectboard in March of 2014. My three-year term is therefore coming to an end and I have decided to seek reelection. I have lived in Bristol with my husband, Chad, since 1994. Together, we have raised our family here. Our eldest daughter graduated from Mount Abe in 2013 and will graduate from college this spring. Our youngest daughter is a freshman at Mount Abe.
I have had a long-standing desire to give back to our community because I believe that community service enhances our quality of life and makes Bristol an even better place to live and raise our families. Over the course of the last twenty years, I have been involved with the Three Day Stampede, many Mount Abe events and activities, 4-H, EMT volunteering with Middlebury Volunteer Ambulance Association (MVAA), including serving on the Board of Directors. I currently help coach the Middlebury Middle School cross-country and track teams and work with a winter running group for Middlebury middle school students.
I have worked at Langrock Sperry & Wool in Middlebury as a paralegal since 1986. I also owned and operated a massage business in downtown Bristol since 2004. When Carol Wells decided not to seek reelection to the selectboard after years of faithful service, I decided to run in 2014 to become more directly involved with our town. My purpose was then, and remains, to support the Town and its taxpayers. My past experience on the MVAA Board and my work experience have taught me to listen, ask questions, and to gather the facts before making any decisions.
The last three years on the Bristol selectboard have only reinforced the value and necessity of this approach with respect to local government. As a result, I strive to remain open-minded, gather the necessary information, and listen to all viewpoints before making a decision based upon what I believe to be in the best interest of the Town of Bristol, its residents and its taxpayers.
The selectboard addressed many important and complex issues during my first term. At my first meeting, the existing town administrator informed the selectboard of his retirement. As a result of this unexpected announcement, we launched a search for and hired a new town administrator. The selectboard negotiated the resolution of the long-standing controversy with the state of Vermont concerning the closure of the town landfill.
We also completed the reconstruction of the South Street Bridge, built a new fire station, and laid the groundwork to upgrade the leaking, hundred-year old West Street water line. In an effort to enhance the economic vitality of the town, I have worked on the selectboard to develop a master plan for the creation of a business park and the necessary expansion of the West Street water line to Lover’s Lane to serve the business park.
Going forward, I will work to keep any increases in our town budget low and to increase the tax base to absorb budget increases and lessen the tax rate borne by Bristol property owners. For the past year, I have served as chair of the selectboard and have worked to make sure that selectboard meetings are inclusive, open, civil, and efficient for the board members, town officials, and members of the public that attend.
One of my goals is to improve the sound quality of the local-access video recordings of selectboard meetings. I know that there are many who watch the meetings on Northeast Addison Television and that it is often difficult to hear what people are saying, especially when side conversations occur. As chair, I have worked to keep the dialogue to one speaker at a time so that those watching can follow the discussion. I believe that I add value to the selectboard by bringing points of view that would otherwise be lacking in two important areas.
First, I am the only female on the five-member board. As a wife, working mother, and business owner, I offer an essential perspective that would otherwise be lacking on the selectboard. Secondly, the other four members of the selectboard live in the former village (the properties that comprise the Police District). The village makes up only 39 percent of our tax base. I am the only selectboard member that lives in the area outside of the village and which accounts for the majority of the town’s tax base.
I am opposed in this election by Lance Laliberte. If Mr. Laliberte is elected, the selectboard will be comprised exclusively of men who live in the village. The selectboard would therefore be a much less representative body. I believe I have represented the town well over the last three years. I would appreciate your support and vote in March. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at [email protected].
Michelle Perlee

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