Letters to the Editor

The Axe Man cometh

If any of you are like me, you are filled with dread by the annual and inevitable event of opening your copy of The Citizen, The Charlotte News, or Front Porch Forum, and getting hit head on by campaign mud-slinging. Rumor has it, the Axe Man is busily sharpening his blade, which he intends to wield in all of these venues, hell-bent to expose the “manifest arrogance and incompetence” of some of our hardest working and most dedicated public servants. He landed his first cut way back in July, in an attempt to intimidate and denigrate two people who have worked tirelessly for many years for the good of this town. No one took the bait. Now, as the elections loom closer, Axe Man and his followers are gearing up for what they hope will be a clear cut.

These people are not builder-uppers, they are tearer-downers. It’s not about what they have to offer, it’s about who and what they want to obliterate. It is my hope that the thoughtful people of Charlotte will see these attacks for what they are: a local version of the ruthless, angry, single-minded power-seekers who make the world a place unfit to bring our children up in. It is my hope that during this campaign season, we can collectively keep our eyes on the prize of creating a community we can all be proud to call home. A community where respect and civility are foundational to our discourse, and good people are not intimidated from stepping forward to do the hard work of town government because they fear being figuratively and publicly beheaded by the Axe Man.

Hang in there, folks. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Bonnie Christie, Charlotte

Charles Russell for Selectboard

I write to announce that I am running for the three-year term for Selectboard to be voted on Town Meeting Day, March 3. For those who may not be familiar with my background, I grew up in Brandon; received a Bachelor’s of Engineering from Dartmouth College; and worked as an electronics engineer and later department manager for 11 years for an electronics company in Worcester, Mass. In 1995, when our three children were approaching school age, my wife Julia and I decided to move to a better place for our children to grow up. Having lived in both states, we appreciate the quality of life that makes Vermont – and especially Charlotte – special.

Serving on the Selectboard requires many different skills. We approve all spending, except for the library and cemeteries, which have separately elected overseers. We manage the town’s finances with the assistance of the Town Treasurer; develop the budget for voter approval at Town Meeting; manage town employees, except for elected officers and their appointed assistants; review and present Town Plan and zoning bylaw changes for voter approval and handle most legal issues that arise, with the help of the Town’s counsel. Town governance – like many areas of society – is getting more, not less, complex and the learning curve for understanding Town management is steep.

When I first ran for Selectboard 15 years ago, my goals were to maintain the rural working landscape of Charlotte and to bring greater transparency to the workings of the town. By working closely with the Planning Commission on the Town Plan and Land Use Regulations, I have honored the former. In focusing on how the board has operated and communicated both through the town website and at our public meetings, and how we have presented budgets that are as clear and comprehensive as possible, I believe we have achieved the latter.

The skills and accomplishments that I have brought to the town as a member of the Selectboard include: 1) support of the many volunteers who have worked harmoniously with the Selectboard over the years and who have saved the town significant tax dollars with their donated time, 2) knowledge of municipal finances in order to provide budgets proposals that are clear, accurate, and as low as possible, 3) knowledge of the complex land use regulations that are needed to ensure the town’s desired balance between landowner rights and the rights of the common, 4) attention to detail and thorough research and analytic skill that supports the Selectboard in making well-informed decisions in the many and varied areas that are addressed each week, and finally, 5) a thick skin and sense of humor.

If re-elected for three more years, my two initial goals would be to: 1) continue the work I began last summer to better understand the workings of the rescue operations in town in order to help the Selectboard and Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services pursue an appropriate path to lowering the cost of our rescue service while maintaining high quality, 2) help with the development and drafting of the financial policies needed in the ever more complex area of municipal governance.

With Ellie Russell’s decision not to seek reelection this year, I will be the only member with more than 19 months of experience on the Selectboard. As much as getting out of the fray has a nice ring to it, I would like to contribute to the Town in this way for another three years and would appreciate your support on March 3. Feel free to call or email with questions or comments, (802) 425-4757 or cdegr@yahoo.com.

Charles Russell, Charlotte