Gieda for Select Board, I humbly ask for your vote

Dear Editor,

I wanted to thank the community for giving me the platform to address the current issues in Killington. I am running for a seat on the Killington Select Board against Jim Haff, but I believe that it’s the system we are fighting against the most. We are constantly battling higher taxes, more local spending, and a set of rules that have been put in place by the establishment that are just not working for us anymore.

For those who watched our debate last Wednesday, I wanted to thank you and I hope you got to know more about me and where I stand. I also want to thank Jim Haff for all the years of volunteering and the time he has put into the community.

Although we are running against each other, we both care about this community. That being said, I do think now is the time for a change.

It just seems like the current bureaucracy is getting out of hand. We are spending money we don’t have. We continue to add positions not only in the fire department but also in our town office. I understand hiring for growth is necessary, but hiring for projected growth five years down the road just doesn’t make sense. Hire as needed. As a small business owner I have to watch my bottom line. We need to treat our local tax dollars in the same way.

There are twice as many people working at the town office now then there were a few years ago. There are certain costs imposed on us that are just not in our control — education taxes, property taxes and healthcare. But what we do control is our local budget and how many paid positions there are in this town. How many more full-time firefighters do we need? We have a long list of volunteers that would like to come back and fight for this town but our current board is just putting their heads in the sand when it comes to this.

I’ve also heard that Jim Haff is setting himself up to oversee TIF as a hired “consultant” by the town, leaving himself a backdoor to still stay in control if he loses this election.  I am not the ethics police, but I do believe someone who is a Select Board member has to understand people will start to question his motives. Not only does Jim’s wife control the finances in this town, he is also the zoning administrator, health officer, and now is talking about overseeing TIF. He is also working side-by-side with the developers who are about to spend millions of dollars here. I am questioning where the line is when it comes to serving the interest of this community first?

In my opinion TIF should be overseen by the Select Board, and if that task becomes too burdensome for the board to handle, I suggest forming a committee of other volunteers rather than hiring yet another position or advisor. The point of me bringing this to your attention is because we need clearer rules and to enforce stronger ethics. I dedicated a lot of time to this at the debate.

Per a report from the Vermont State Ethics Commission on Jan. 15, 2024: “Vermont currently lacks a comprehensive statewide municipal ethics framework,” which includes but is not limited to conflict of interest, lack of disclosure, retaliation, lack of enforcement of existing rules, nepotism and bullying.

This current Select Board abuses the executive sessions at public meetings. These meetings should be public first and foremost. If this continues as stated in this Ethics Commission Report, residents will stop attending municipal meetings, and feel unwelcome. This is not the town we want for the future.

Either way, agree with me or not, I am encouraging everyone to come out and vote.  What I most appreciate about this process is that we have the opportunity to speak our minds, disagree on issues, and not be retaliated against. Jim Haff has been a formidable opponent and I have enjoyed our open discussions about the issues. I want to wish him good luck. I also want to thank all of you and I am asking for your vote.

Andrew Gieda, Killington

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