My name is Rebecca Morris and I am running for the three-year term on the Wilmington Selectboard.
For those who do not know me, my family moved to Whitingham in 1986 with my 10 brothers and sisters. Within a year my youngest sister was born rounding us out to an even dozen Cunninghams. I was fortunate to work in the valley during the late 1980s as Mount Snow went through a boom, and Wilmington and Dover experienced significant economic growth. I have three children, my eldest in his first year of college, my daughter in her senior year, and my youngest enjoying second grade at DVES. I have worked in the valley at restaurants, and more recently in rentals and real estate.
I consider myself fortunate to have seen the town come together after Hurricane Irene. My brother Tim Cunningham worked with the National Guard to reopen roadways, while my sister Laura Sibilia worked with the town, state, and federal agencies to get needed services in. As my oldest children move to adulthood, I see an opportunity to help the town by running for selectboard. I have the ability to listen while working collaboratively, making the best decisions for the town moving forward. I am not afraid of tackling tough issues, or working hard. Coming from a large family has helped define my negotiating skills, as well as understanding that someone will not always agree with my decision.
I recently read a post expressing concern that our children are leaving the valley for more economically sustainable areas. That really hit home as many people in the valley are reliant on weather-dependent tourism to pay their bills. I wonder if my own children come back to the valley after they finish college? Probably not, as the jobs available may not afford them the economic stability to repay college loans, buy a home, and raise a family.
Wilmington provides a beautiful environment for us, our schools are safe, and we enjoy the bonds that come with a small town. That all becomes moot if our younger generation leaves in search of better economies. The Mullin Report shows that without change our grand list will continue to decrease, and our taxes go up, as our population base continues to shrink.
Our town needs to grow: for that to happen our economy needs to strengthen, our school systems need to be successful, and we need to have our children return to the valley. Economic growth and community development are as critical to this success, as are supporting our consolidated and renovated school systems. Slowly our downtown buildings are returning to life. During this time of rebuild, adding new businesses that are not tourist driven would be beneficial. Many of us are enjoying improved access to broadband, critical to building a strong economy via increased communication, and an ease of access to information.
However, there is still plenty to work on. Some of the present opportunities include determining a future use for the high school building in Wilmington, as well as making the vacant buildings downtown desirable to new investors/owners. We have access to such great resources including Mount Snow, Harriman Reservoir, hiking, biking, snowmobiling. We can utilize these resources to their highest potential while still enjoying a small town way of life. We need to continue on this path of positive growth to achieve long-term sustainability in Wilmington.
I hope that those who see me every day at DVES, jogging through town, or shopping at the Shaw’s can find a common thread in my reasoning, choosing me when voting at Town Meeting. I may not have a long history in town politics to reflect upon; however, this does afford me the opportunity to be agenda free; allowing for an open mind to consider the daily issues of our town, and the people who live here.