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Dan Jones Runs for Mayor

Dan Jones. Courtesy photo.
Sustainability advocate Dan Jones recently announced his candidacy for mayor of Montpelier, joining city councilor Jack McCullough and Richard Sheir in vying for the seat vacated by Anne Watson, who was recently elected to the Vermont State Senate. Those running for city offices have until Jan. 30 to file with the city to appear on the ballot on Town Meeting Day, March 7.

Jones, a 14-year resident of Montpelier and a founder of Sustainable Montpelier (as well as spearheading MyRide and the 2016 Sustainable Montpelier Design Competition), reached out to The Bridge last week with his mayoral position statement. His priorities focus on preparing the city for climate emergencies, curbing new taxes, and supporting the viability of local businesses.

“I am announcing my candidacy for the office of mayor of Montpelier because it is past time for our city to confront the hard climate, political, and economic challenges ahead,” he said. In an email to The Bridge, Jones elaborated, “Today, the climate emergency is growing and our local economy has been hammered by COVID and by the rapid contraction of the larger economy. I am running for mayor in that difficult environment because our city needs to recognize the challenges it faces and start making way for the ideas and the hard work it will take to respond.”

Like candidates McCullough and Sheir, Jones identified infrastructure and housing among his priorities, as well as preparedness “for climate emergencies, our local and regional economy, our housing crisis, our mental health, and our declining workforce.”

“We also need to create a higher level of city accountability for infrastructure, expenses, and durability, while shifting our collective focus to the mounting challenges that are currently being ignored,” he said in a position statement.

“I am not entering this race to oppose any candidate but, rather, in the belief that our city council and its administration need new leadership. It is past time to begin preparing Montpelier for the predictable crises which climate science and economic analysis show are here — today. I offer my candidacy in order to give the citizens of Montpelier a different voice in determining a new, resilient direction for our city. This effort will be hard. It is time to do the hard work required.”

Before moving to Montpelier, Jones worked in communications in Boston, as a cable TV consultant for cities and cable companies on issues of public interest uses of cable. His business, SITE Productions, produced both travel videos of New England and videos for clients.

“After the internet ate the home video business, I ran a small nonprofit using various media to work on changing the image of people with disabilities,” he said. But locally he’s known as a “longtime advocate for building a resilient local future,” he said. 

Jones’ positions include the following:

Water: “We need detailed analysis of the condition of our municipal water system along with a public budget on the time and resources needed to ensure that we have a durable, safe public water resource.”

Housing: “Workers need an affordable place to live. New workforce housing is an immediate need and will not wait for 10 years.”

Preparation: “We must redirect municipal planning to prepare for inevitable climate challenges, including heat waves, food shortages, and extended utility failures.”

The Power Grid: “[Montpelier should] coordinate planning with our local utilities on grid fragility issues. Our recent, multi-day power outages have shown the need for such essential discussions.” 

Payment in Lieu of Taxes: “Update the agreement with the state of Vermont through which the city is paid for municipal services provided to the many state buildings and facilities in the city. Land use priorities must also be addressed.”

Taxes: “We need an immediate analysis of the city’s growing tax burden and a strategy for managing the proposed tax increases.”

Support for Capital Area Neighborhoods: “This effort should be part of encouraging more democratic participation and ensuring a more robust emergency communications system.”

“Such an ambitious agenda will require a close examination of budget priorities and personnel requirements. It will also ask the city council to push beyond its current comfort zone and plan for the long-term needs of our people,” wrote Jones.

Look to The Bridge for more coverage of city candidates and their policies in the coming weeks before Town Meeting Day on March 7. Information about how to file for candidacy for city offices can be found at montpelier-vt.org/262/Candidate-Information. Petitions to run for city office must be filed by 5 p.m. on Jan. 30.