Hardwick, News

Select Board Candidates Respond

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HARDWICK – On town meeting day, voters will appoint select board members by Australian Ballot. Elizabeth Dow is not running again, leaving three seats open. Current member Shari Cornish is running unopposed for another three-year term. Select board chair, Eric Remick and newcomer, Timothy Ricciardello are running unopposed for two one-year terms. All three responded to questions from The Gazette.

Why are you running for select board?

Cornish: I am running for another three-year seat on the select board to continue to work on many of the projects that are currently underway and about to start in our town.

Remick: I am running for select board in part so that I can continue to work on projects that help our town thrive such as a new/updated sewer plant, a new town highway garage, and the yellow barn. I am also interested in exploring ways to better align the interests of the Town and its electric department.

Ricciardello: I think it is important for younger people to be actively involved in their local governments. Select board is a great way to get to know people within the community and their needs. I’d like to be able to effect change and serve my community in a meaningful and supportive way.

What experience do you bring to the position that will benefit Hardwick?

Cornish: I bring more than a decade of knowledge and experience as a select board member for Hardwick. I serve as the liaison to the select board for both the Hardwick Town House (NEKArts) and the Hardwick Downtown Partnership. Both organizations have by-laws that require participation on their board of directors from a member of the select board.

Remick: My professional experience is in computer programming and sugar making but the most relevant experience that I bring to the position comes from having served on the select board for the past several years. I have a good understanding of how our town government works and how it can change over time to continue to benefit the residents of the town.

Ricciardello: My job as a social worker and psychotherapist has provided me with over a decade of experience listening to and supporting the needs of others. I hope to be able to bring that same mentality to the needs of our community and support them through effective town governance.

What do you see as the most important issues facing Hardwick?

Cornish: The need for infrastructure support and redevelopment [of the] town garage, fire station, rescue, and public works facilities. Creating housing that is affordable and attractive to new residents and current Hardwickians alike. The waning of citizen volunteers and local leaders that are needed to support economic, social, and cultural vitality.

Remick: The July 2023 flooding, in addition to the immediate damage it caused, created a large workload for the town that will last for years. The town is focused on rebuilding infrastructure to withstand this type of flooding when it happens again. In particular our roads and sewer plant were severely impacted by the flooding and need to be made more resilient.

Policing is changing and we will need to adapt. It’s harder to recruit new officers which makes it harder to cover shifts, yet costs remain high. Some bright spots in policing are our dedicated staff and the recent partnership with a new resource from Northeast Kingdom Human Services.

The Town faces increased costs for almost everything it does. Investing in capacity for grant writing and administration will help us offset some costs. Investing in our town in ways that ultimately increase the tax base will also help.

Ricciardello: I think we are sitting at a crossroads in our town between our old traditions and the changing face of the world. How we approach and manage our growing town will be critical in shaping the identity of our community. We need to figure out how to allocate funds for community projects (i.e. infrastructure and development) as well as address the growing need for social services that support our community not only in staying safe but also providing necessary care networks.

What things about Hardwick make it a great place to live?

Cornish: I grew up in the midwest, visiting family in Hardwick and other towns in Vermont. I have lived as an adult in Kansas City, Mo., Minneapolis-St. Paul, Los Angeles, Hendersonville, N.C. In 2004 I made Hardwick my home, initially in the house that was my grandmother’s. I have history here and my business exists here because the Hardwick Economic Development Fund helped make it a reality. I feel like I have helped to make it a great place that I can feel proud to call home for myself and others.

Remick: I think Hardwick has a great rural character combined with village amenities. Though we don’t have a huge population we do have a variety of people with different backgrounds and views who contribute to the community in many ways.

Ricciardello: Hardwick’s sense of history, community and resilience make it an amazing place to live. There is a strong sense of pride being from Hardwick, and while there is also a reputation of being…well…hard…there is also a tremendous amount of commitment and support to one’s neighbors.

What is Hardwick doing to be a good place for families to raise children?

Cornish: I am not raising children, but hope that those who are can access the resources needed to surround their children with love, positive support, and acceptance as they develop into responsible citizens of both Hardwick and the world.

Remick: The town promotes outdoor activities and spaces for children and adults through its Recreation Committee and Trails Committee. Our schools are central to children and families and the town as a whole.

Ricciardello: There is no other place I’d rather raise a family than Hardwick and it really does take a village. This is evident by the care I see given to young people in our town daily and the investment in their future. I hope to further build on this by supporting projects that support kids and families and encourage their continued involvement.

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