Whitcomb: Experience Counts

In light of the challenges ahead, vote for an experienced voice for Hanover Selectboard.

by Joanna Whitcomb | 7/13/21 4:10am

Today, please make the time to participate in Hanover’s Town Meeting at the Dewey Field Parking Lot. Hanover residents will have the opportunity to vote by official ballot for town officers and four articles. Residents will also have the opportunity to attend the Business Meeting, starting at 7 p.m., to discuss and vote on articles six through 21, which pertain to matters such as the annual budget, bridge bonds and the Community Power Plan. I’m running for Selectboard to continue to support the pandemic recovery, ensure the successful re-evaluation of properties, encourage good planning and improve communications. 

This has been a challenging year for all of us. It is exciting to see unmasked friends and neighbors mingling around town, attending Hopkins Center for the Arts live events, viewing movies at the Nugget Theaters and lining up at our restaurants. Area businesses pivoted their business models last year, and they continue to innovate — for example, the new Upper Valley Eateries and Restaurants, or “UVER,” app provides a local food delivery platform! Town staff and the Selectboard thought outside of the box as well; Main Street parking spaces were converted to outdoor seating, and sidewalk kiosks enhanced the street scene all winter. But there is more we can do to make our downtown vibrant and welcoming to all. As a Hanover Selectboard member, I will continue to support our local business community and help strengthen downtown.  

These and many other issues will be addressed as Hanover kicks off its long-term planning efforts this summer. Beyond our recovery from the pandemic, we also need to look to the future. As someone who grew up in Hanover and who works as a planner for Dartmouth College, I will bring a valuable perspective to this process. This 30-year plan will help guide us as we address housing, parking, mobility, traffic and our changing climate — all of which are important and difficult issues. We need to work together to tackle these challenges in a thoughtful, creative and comprehensive fashion.  

As the Selectboard member of Hanover’s Advisory Board of Assessors, I saw firsthand the numerous issues with our previous round of property assessments. I will stay involved to ensure that the town does a better job going forward. We have worked with town staff to make sure the current process is transparent and fair. The ongoing property re-evaluation is an important next step. Please reach out to me or other Board members if you have any questions about your revaluation.

Another challenge we face is with communications. I will continue to encourage public participation and the use of the town's various email subscriptions for boards and committees. Many people find public meetings intimidating, but it is essential that we have broad participation to explore all points of view. I assure you that the Selectboard listens to Hanover residents, whether students, renters or homeowners. Your voice matters. It is important to show up, listen, talk and help problem-solve  —  not just complain. The town’s website needs improvement, particularly in the search capability.  We also need to develop a new town logo. As we return to in-person meetings, we are considering adding something like Zoom to allow for broader participation.

The polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Dewey Field parking lot. Several proposed amendments are on the ballot, including three petitioned articles that I believe would harm the positive progress in our town. Here are my recommendations:

On Article 1, I encourage everyone to vote for me and Nancy Carter, the two experienced candidates. The town has some challenges ahead that need experienced hands. For Article 2, vote “Yes” on the zoning amendment proposed by our Planning Board that modifies the definition of family to be more inclusive. For Article 3, vote “No” on this petitioned article, which is a repeated attempt to spot zone — change zoning rules for a single lot — for individual gain. For Article 4, vote “No” on this poorly thought-out petitioned article, which would allow for unsafe living conditions — specifically, too many people to be housed in one domicile — throughout our community. Lastly, for Article 5, vote “Yes” to keep the existing Town Manager form of government.

I have outlined some of the key issues that would be the focus for my third term on the Selectboard. I have learned so much from my first two terms, and I will bring that experience to bear on these and other issues that we face. I would appreciate your support.

Please plan to attend the in-person business meeting starting at 7 p.m. today, which will be in a walk-up or drive-in style at the Dewey Field parking lot. The annual meeting is a true democratic event and a New England tradition. Let’s increase participation and keep it relevant. I hope to see you there.  

Joanna Whitcomb is a candidate for and current member of the Hanover Selectboard. 

The Dartmouth offered all three Selectboard candidates the chance to write guest columns ahead of the July 13 Hanover Town Meeting, and all three were published July 13. David Millman’s can be found here and Nancy Carter’s can be found here.

The Dartmouth welcomes guest columns. We request that guest columns be the original work of the submitter. Submissions and questions may be sent to both opinion@thedartmouth.com and editor@thedartmouth.com. Submissions will receive a response within three business days.