Guillaume Teganyi and Jared Bomba
Mudge’s worldwide work for democracy makes him right for Vermont Senate
To the Editor:
These days we are reminded every day why we need candidates to volunteer and defend democracy. In our State Senate race we can choose a candidate — Lewis Mudge — who will stand up for democracy and fight for human rights here as he has done in my home country: the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Lewis moved to the eastern Congo in 2008 when militias were targeting civilians.
He took up a job to train journalists and later joined Human Rights Watch where he continues to work to this day.
Whether here in Charlotte on the selectboard or working in the Central Africa Republic, Lewis approaches problems with curiosity and humility. He always wants to learn more and hear perspectives. The diplomacy skills he learned in Goma, Bunia and Bukavu eastern in Democratic Republic of Congo have served him well here in Vermont.
I have seen him call people in Charlotte to seek their input on issues and problems, he listens to their side and appreciates what they have to say. We can use more of that in Montpelier.
We also have a chance to elect someone who will promote the voices of new Americans in Montpelier. Lewis understands that new Americans make Vermont, and the country, a better place to be. We know he will advocate for policies that will help new Americans get settled here in Vermont. Vermont can be a challenging place to come to at first, but Lewis in the state Senate will help with that.
Lewis is a man of integrity. We should send him to the state Senate.
Fire department objects to closed talks about forming another fire department
To the Editor:
Since 1950, Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services, Inc., has provided emergency response services for the Charlotte community. Supported by a combination of public and private funding Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services has established a service level of high availability and high skill with a total focus on delivering service to the community in which we live. Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services is a non-profit organization run by a volunteer board of directors and is composed of volunteers, staff and community members. Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services provides its services to the town of Charlotte under a memorandum of agreement with the town, the most recent revision of which was executed in 2019.
Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services has recently learned that the Charlotte Selectboard intends to establish a municipal fire and rescue department under direct town control. The memorandum of agreement makes provisions for such an eventuality and Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services acknowledges the right of the town to establish its own fire and rescue service. In fact, the increasing challenges of maintaining a volunteer-run organization means some form of organizational evolution is likely to be the best strategy going forward. While we are understandably proud of our more than seven decades of service to Charlotte as a non-political organization, we know that times change and our organization must change with it.
Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services believes, however, that this is not a decision to be taken lightly. To sustain the high quality of services currently in place, such a change requires substantial research, planning and, most importantly, a thorough town discussion to be certain that all parties understand the difficulties of maintaining a fire and rescue service, the potential for increased costs and the risk of interrupted service. To this end, Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services believes these discussions should be happening in open meetings within the town rather than in so-called executive sessions.
To be clear, Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services does not object to the idea of a municipal department to assume the responsibilities of fire and rescue services. Rather, we believe such a transition should be the subject of a detailed plan implemented over the course of 12-24 months in order to retain staff and maintain uninterrupted service.
Specifically, Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services calls upon the town of Charlotte to:
- Hold all meetings in public;
- Conduct meaningful research on the issue of managing a Fire and Rescue service;
- Develop a detailed plan for implementation;
- Provide assurances to the people of Charlotte of a commitment to maintain current service levels;
- Continue to negotiate with our designated committee in good faith.
Meanwhile, Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services is committed fully to:
- Ensuring the continuity of high quality services to the residents of Charlotte;
- Ensuring the maintenance of a good working environment for our employees;
- Conducting all negotiations in good faith.
To this end, Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services has designated a working committee to facilitate communication with the Selectboard regarding these negotiations. The residents of Charlotte, and the services we provide to you, have always been and will always be our highest priority. Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services commits to use its resources and best efforts to ensure a safe and successful transition to whatever form of service organization the people of Charlotte may choose.
(Jared Bomba is acting president of the Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services Board of Directors.)