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Albinson, Carter vie for Bristol board

IAN ALBINSON, LEFT, and Eric Carter are running for an open seat on the Bristol selectboard.

BRISTOL — In a special election next Tuesday, Dec. 3, Bristol voters will choose someone to fill the selectboard seat vacated by Ted Lylis in September.
Two candidates are running for the seat: Ian Albinson and Eric Carter.
Carter owns and operates Carter Insurance in downtown Bristol. He has been a director of Bristol Youth sports for almost 10 years and currently serves on the Town Wide Police District Committee. In the past he has served on the boards of the Bristol Recreation Club and the Bristol Downtown Community Partnership (now Bristol CORE).
Albinson owns and operates Albinson Design, which produces design and animation for film and television. He is executive director of Bristol CORE, a nonprofit that promotes the downtown economy and organizes community events. In addition to working with the selectboard and town administration on a variety of projects, he also serves on the Bristol Energy Committee and the Community Center Steering Committee.
The Independent reached out to each and asked them five questions about their plans for Bristol.
IAN ALBINSON
Q: What is the most important skill set you would bring to the selectboard?
I see my role on the selectboard as someone who listens and understands, cares about the community and shows initiative. I’d like to harness my knowledge, energy and enthusiasm to create a more friendly, inclusive and respectful environment where residents feel welcome to share their ideas, thoughts and concerns.
Q: What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the town and what will be your approach to addressing it?
One of the bigger challenges our community is now facing is the changes in our town education system. There will be difficult decisions to make in the next few years about what the Mount Abraham Unified School District will look like for the foreseeable future, and as a father of two young boys I am fully engaged in those discussions. These changes will impact everyone and will play a large role in the affordability, desirability and fiscal health of our towns.
Q: What would be your top plan for pursuing/ensuring economic development in Bristol?
I’d continue my support for the ongoing public/private partnership work already established by the selectboard and planning commission for the Stoney Hill business park. This large-scale development has been a decade or more in the making and is an urgent need in Bristol’s business sector. Many successful companies have started (in Bristol) and have had to leave because of the lack of commercial space to grow into. The planning commission has also worked to create more flexible zoning regulations in town and I think it’s time for us to pursue subdivision regulations too. This would allow for more straightforward growth for existing businesses and provide an incentive for new business development.
Q: What role does the selectboard of a small town like Bristol have to play in addressing climate change?
The Selectboard has a responsibility for the wellbeing of the community and the health and safety of its residents. We’re already seeing dramatic changes in weather and the damage caused to roads, property and town infrastructure. The selectboard needs to be proactive in these areas to understand the potential impacts on the community. We also have a responsibility for energy conservation to help lessen these effects. The energy committee (of which I am a member) and planning commission are already working with our regional planning commission, and the state, on an enhanced energy plan for Bristol that will give us more authority on energy-related decisions in the next few decades.
Q: What is most important for voters to know about your candidacy?
I am dedicated to Bristol and want to see it thrive and prosper. I am family focused and would like the opportunity to help shape Bristol’s future not just for my children but for all generations that call Bristol home. This is a vibrant and dynamic community and I am proud to be a member.
ERIC CARTER
Q: What is the most important skill set you would bring to the selectboard?
I believe I bring good communication skills and the diligence to address Bristol’s constituents in a respectful, timely manner.  I think many people need to feel more connected to their local governments and services, with less of the us-versus-them feeling.
Q: What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the town and what will be your approach to addressing it?
I believe Bristol is much like every other town in Vermont. We are faced with the struggle of staying affordable and attracting young people and families to our town. Addressing this involves community involvement, state cooperation and possibly incentives to get businesses to come to our town. Kevin Harper’s efforts are more of what our town needs.
Q: What would be your top plan for pursuing/ensuring economic development in Bristol?
Strong collaboration between the private sector and the town and state are the keys to long-term economic development.  Schools and attractions for young families should not be minimized. All towns, just like any business, need a certain amount of organic growth in order to just stay even with basic legacy and expense costs. Otherwise all increases in expenses are generated from increasing taxes. Organic growth comes from new house starts and business development.
Q: What role does the selectboard of a small town like Bristol have to play in addressing climate change?
This is an easier question to ask than answer. People need to see the advantages of making different energy choices through incentives or by reaping the savings of choice. I don’t like the idea of banning or excluding choices for my neighbors. I think most people respond better to making choices when there are options, rather than being forced by their government or neighbors. That kind of approach divides us and grows resentment. We as a community cease to be good problem solvers when we fight among ourselves.
As a town entity, we can continue to work to be more energy efficient and improve our storm-water systems while improving our water systems and roadways.
Q: What is most important for voters to know about your candidacy?
I am approachable, kind and a good listener. I am open to considering everyone’s ideas and opinions. If elected, I will remember that I represent everyone from Bristol. I very much enjoy a conversation with someone with a different view, and I often learn a lot from those conversations.

ELECTION DAY
The special town meeting election is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 3. Voting by Australian ballot will take place between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at Holley Hall.
Absentee ballots are also available. Registered voters may come to the town office during regular office hours to cast their ballot, take a ballot home and return it to the office, or contact the office at (802) 453-2410 and request that a ballot be mailed to them.
To be counted, all absentee ballots must be returned by Dec. 3 at 7 p.m.
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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