Manwaring is running for a three-year term, to fill a seat currently held by Susan Haughwout. Haughwout, a long-time board member and Wilmington Town Clerk, announced last year that she would not run for another term on the board.
Manwaring says she’s eager to tackle several of the town’s top issues, including the search for a new Town Manager (after the recent resignation of Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy), economic development, and the disposition of the former high school building.
“We are not having a smooth sail figuring out what to do with the old school building,” Manwaring says. “And although it’s a school district building, it’s all the same taxpayers and all the same pockets paying for it. There may be strategies that involve the town that may be better for taxpayers on the whole.”
Manwaring says the future of the school building isn’t an education issue, rather it is connected to the future of the town and its economic well-being. “The bottom line for me is that, whoever ends up with that building, there has to be a financial structure that takes the building forward. There are many ways that can happen. I understand the Old School Enrichment Center committee and the school board are in serious negotiations in executive session. When we can talk about it publicly, I want to look at what the finanicial stability is, and whether it’s possible for the town to be helpful in a way that (the building) can be beneficial to the town, its citizens and taxpayers, and the general economic well-being of the town.”
Manwaring also recently became a member of Wilmington Works, the nonprofit that administers Wilmington’s state-recognized Downtown Designation Program. She says Wilmington’s long-term economic vitality is one of her chief concerns, and something she believes is connected not only to municipal efforts, but also to education. “I’m keenly interested in the role that schools play in our economic future. I’m not sure the legislative process we have recognizes that, or is willing to recognize that.”
In addition to her 10 years’ experience as a legislator, Manwaring also brings previous experience as a Wilmington Selectboard member to the table. She served as a Wilmington Selectboard member for about a dozen years from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s. Three of those years, she also served as chair. During her tenure, the board also went through the process of transitioning to a new town manager.
In addition to bringing her general knowledge of the Legislature, Manwaring says her experience as a member of the House Appropriations Committee will also serve the town well. “One of the things I learned a lot about is how to ask the kind of questions that I think need to be asked at a local level – what are we buying for our money, and who knows about it?”
With her legislative contacts and intimate knowledge of Montpelier’s inner workings, Manwaring says she hopes to be an effective liaison between the board and the Legislature, and to be able to work closely with her successor in the Legislature and current selectboard member, John Gannon. “Most of what happens in the Legislature impacts what happens in our towns,” she said. “And we’ll have a platform there to speak.”
Manwaring said she also looks forward to “building bridges” between the selectboard and the community and increasing transparency, as well as supporting the town’s employees.