Tracey Harrington

2015 City Council Candidate Questionnaire: Tracey Harrington

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Thursday February 19, 2015

Tracey Harrington
3 Year Term

Education: B.S. in Computer Information Systems, Castleton State College

Occupation: Assistant IT Manager, Vermont Department of Corrections

Years as SB resident: 11 years

1. What skills uniquely qualify you for the position of city councilor?

I routinely assess situations by viewing them from different perspectives in order to communicate and collaborate with all involved. I focus on long term consequences of decision-making and how to anticipate and mitigate any unintended consequences.  Being a single homeowner, I succeed at budgeting and controlling costs - I have held at least a part-time job since I was 14 years old and held multiple part-time jobs during college to pay for my tuition. I ring handbells in my church and this takes concentration, collaboration, and listening to those around you. 

2.What do you feel is the single most pressing concern for the city, and what solutions/actions would you propose? 

The Chamberlin/airport neighborhood’s future planning is the single most pressing concern.  I strongly believe in revitalizing and healing the neighborhood while, at the same time, I am mindful of the importance of the airport to the city, region, and state.  I do not have a specific position to put forward.  I will work diligently and collaboratively on the Chamberlin-Airport Neighborhood Planning Committee to which I have been appointed.  However, the fact that the city has but one position on the five-member Airport Commission contributes to the challenge inherent in this relationship.

3. What do you believe is the right balance and rate of residential and business/commercial/retail growth?  What is the councilor’s role in determining and achieving this balance?

As a city, we need to develop economically via a smart and sustainable growth policy.  I am committed to economic growth that keeps our city thriving and vibrant while including input from our residents and business community. My grandfather used to say, “Don’t wire a house if you aren’t an electrician”. In other words, ask for the help of others who are more knowledgeable. I will learn by working collaboratively with the other councilors to formulate policies and will receive input on growth policies from the planning commission, residents, and businesses on this important topic.

I was a Girl Scout as a child and fondly remember selling Girl Scout cookies every year. This yearly sale and distribution taught me how business can support nonprofit entities while also benefitting me with entrepreneurial skills. In South Burlington, there is an important role for business growth in keeping with residential and commercial growth.

4. What are your thoughts on the city’s plans for City Center (Form Based Code, TIF District financial obligations, wastewater allocations, infrastructure).  What is your position on the Saxon Partner’s proposal to purchase Marcotte Central School for Phase 1 of its development plan to build City Center Commons?

In order to support City Center, TIF District financial obligations, and funding of municipal projects, development must occur. Community visioning has shown that our City Center should include new businesses, new public facilities (City Hall, Library, and Recreation Center), outdoor public gathering space, and open space.  Above all, our City Center should be welcoming to all South Burlingtonians while being respectful of our past. I can’t picture a City Center without including Al’s French Frys – a favorite of many, including me!

Currently the school board has formed a committee to review the proposal. We may not agree with all aspects of the proposal, but Mr. Beaudoin of Saxon Partners has never struck me as someone who would not sit down and negotiate to find common ground for all.  If we do not find common ground and there is no alternative, the opportunity costs (loss of TIF funds) are very large.

5. South Burlington has a unique relationship with Burlington International Airport, the City of Burlington, and VTANG. Recurring topics of taxes, finance, traffic,  land use, expansion, F-35’s, noise, and a changing neighborhood continue to pose concerns. The Chamberlin/BTV neighborhood planning committee will work to provide recommendations for a collaborative long-term vision for the neighborhood and its relationship to BIA, which is owned by the City of Burlington. What is the council’s role in the outcome if consensus can’t be reached between competing interests?

While it is true that sometimes consensus cannot be achieved, I believe it is vital to do everything possible to work toward it, or at least work for a solution where no entity is harmed. As an appointed member to the Chamberlin-Airport Neighborhood Planning Committee, I promise to be open and honest, and to work diligently and collaboratively to represent the people and businesses of South Burlington in a fair and unbiased manner.

Growing up, my brother and I used to be at odds, seemingly at every corner. Instead of using the “Because I said so” method of resolution, my mother would intervene as a mediator to help us identify where similarities and differences existed. There are always areas of common ground, the big step is to start the conversation.

6. Closing Statement

I believe a person’s character and values are more important than the issues they face as they will ultimately guide that person’s approach to all issues. I can be relied upon to act in a transparent and collaborative way and my record of voluntary service at the municipal level demonstrates this. I look forward to working with the South Burlington Business Association and its leaders. This is a step toward civic awareness in our business community that is most welcome and will aid in direct communication and gathering input. I humbly ask for your vote on March 3.

Mark your calendar to vote Tuesday, March 3, 2015.