On August 24, 2022

Killington considers inclusion statement

By Curt Peterson

The Killington Select Board seemed to struggle with semantics as they discussed adoption of the Vermont Declaration of Inclusion at a meeting on Aug. 22. Ultimately the board suggested a committee recommend changes in the document at the Sept. 12 meeting to resolve issues over possible conflicts regarding board authority, enforcement, and implementation.

Select Board member Jim Haff told the Mountain Times he believes any adoption of any policy or ordinance requires a publicly warned meeting.

The declaration, produced by Vtdeclarationofinclusion.org, is meant to be adopted and promoted as “a statement (that) could attract people with myriad skills and traditions to Vermont to live, work and raise families,” according to the organization’s website.

The Declaration reads, “The Town of ____ condemns and welcomes all persons, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, age, or disability, and wants everyone to feel safe and welcome in our community.

“As a town, we formally condemn all discrimination in all of its forms, commit to fair and equal treatment of everyone in our community, and will strive to ensure all of our actions, policies and operation procedures reflect this commitment.

“The Town of ____ has and will continue to be a place where individuals can live freely and express their opinions.”

The board questioned the second paragraph in relation to an “implementation” directive on the website, regarding questionable authority to pass ordinances, or possible conflicts with the town’s existing employee handbook.

Andy Salamon, who originally presented the declaration to the board, offered an amended paragraph in compromise, but the board found it unsatisfactory.

Al Wakefield, one of the founders of VTdeclarationofinclusion.org, explained the board was assuming no specific obligations by adoption. The website lists displaying the declaration on the town website, in economic marketing, employee manuals, police protocols and any newsletters, and to consider it when enacting any future ordinances. He said the Vermont Office of Racial Equity and the Vermont League of Cities and Towns have programs and documents to support a town’s efforts to live up to the declaration.

So for, 64 towns, representing 44% of the state’s population, have adopted the declaration, including nearby Hartford, Mendon, Pittsford, Pittsfield, Rutland town, Rutland city, West Rutland, West Windsor, Windsor, Woodstock and Woodstock village.

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