Family: Married, with three boys (two in eighth grade, one in third).
1. Since moving to Vermilion in 1997, I've been drawn into helping friends with a variety of admirable projects, and as my respect for these community builders grows, I would like to continue my involvement with our community in a comprehensive way.
I've been attending city council meetings occasionally, and the series of decisions made there may sometimes seem mundane, but that's the fabric of our community under construction. If I get the opportunity to participate in that process, I'd strive to consider every issue in the context of the daunting challenges we face as a nation — and as a species.
2. Compared with its neighbors, Vermillion is underdeveloped — and the number of unemployed and underemployed people here is striking. If we recognize the importance of growing our own jobs, as well as attracting employers, then that labor pool (with access to farm land), along with the talent pool associated with the university, can be seen as a resource. We're entering a period of sweeping change, when some well-established patterns of growth may prove unsustainable. The faltering of top-down corporate models could give human-scaled strategies an opportunity to help revitalize our economy. The Upper Missouri Valley Local Foods Project, currently being developed with help from the Vermillion Area Chamber and Development Company, is a promising example of this approach to development.
Energy will be the defining factor for the next generation. A better understanding of underlying patterns of energy use will help us all to reconsider and refine how we live ¬– and should be a part of the broad context we need to make wise long-term decisions in the public realm, as well. Energy generation should not be seen as a single solution, but we need to recognize that wind offers huge potential as an energy source for this region. At this point, though, most of the investment in wind power comes from far away, so that's where the profit goes. Plains Justice, a public-interest energy and environmental law center with an office in Vermillion, is working to develop strategies to enable direct community investment in wind power generation. We're fortunate to have that experience and expertise available within our community as we work to make our public consideration of energy-related issues more comprehensive and conscientious.
A third challenge for Vermillion is less tangible, but also important. In a small town where the privacy afforded by our backyards and living rooms is so pleasant, maintaining the vitality of our public life takes ongoing effort. We have a strong foundation here, with the Dakota Days parade, July 4th celebration, and community theater, as well as more recent developments like the Arts Council's Chili Blues event, the Farmers' Market, the PTA's spring carnival, and the "Ribs, Rods, and Rock 'n' Roll" street fair. This summer the Thursday Farmers' Market will sprout a Saturday offshoot at the new park at the corner of Main and Market streets, and there'll be musical performances there on Thursday evenings later this summer. There's another new pocket park downtown to make use of, and an underutilized band shell in Prentis Park that I'd like to help develop into a place where we can gather to enjoy a performance on a summer evening. Whether large scale or small, continued efforts to increase the vitality of the public sphere are a healthy investment.
3. Real debate involving differing viewpoints is important in the formation of public policy. My primary role on the council would be to serve as a ready conduit for public comment. The casual conversations I have every day around town could already provide some valuable input for public discussion, and if I were a member of the council, those informal channels would serve increasingly in that role. My personal background could also contribute to widening the scope of some of that public discourse – and provide a link between the town and university. My wife chairs USD's English department, so the campus is part of my life, but I'm also involved in the construction trade. When the partners I worked for before moving here noticed how I was managing their job sites, they asked me to meet with them once a week to help develop the company policies and paperwork. I'm glad to be a solo carpenter again here, but the organizational thinking behind work continues to interest me.
I've grown fond of this town while helping to raise three boys here, and I'd like to continue contributing to a community that has been generous to our family. I have been an active supporter of USD's child care center and the Vermillion Area Arts Council. I have enjoyed coaching the boys' sports teams in the summer and volunteering for special events like River Appreciation Day, the PTA carnival, and art classes and Special Interest Day at Jolley School. I served on the Bike Path committee, I'm vice president of the Clay County Historic Preservation Commission, and I helped lead a community education class about innovative architecture this spring. My engagement in this community continues to develop.
I will always love the freedom of working alone, but I'm increasingly intrigued by the challenges involved in working effectively in the public sphere. Collaboration allows us to be more than the sum of our parts, and I'm convinced that this community is made up of some extraordinarily talented parts. If you entrust me with some public responsibility, I'll strive to make the most of that opportunity.