They might have the same last name — give or take an “h” — but the two candidates running for Rutland Town Select Board couldn’t be more different.
Don Chioffi, a political veteran, said he is running on a platform of saving taxpayer dollars and pursuing new programs to benefit the town. Chris Kiefer-Cioffi, a political newcomer, said she has no platform and her only agenda is to listen to townspeople.
Both candidates are vying for one three-year seat on the board, left vacant by James Hall who decided to step down after 12 years of service. Chioffi ran for Select Board last year — losing by 17 votes in a three-way race — and said it was a tough race, but very close. That’s why he decided to mount a new campaign.
“My town is worth my efforts again.”
His goal is to represent the townspeople and he said, if elected, voters can count on honesty, integrity and a lot of hard work.
At 68, Chioffi has 27 years of experience in town government and education, and has lived in the community for 43 years.
“I have some ideas on where we think we can save,” he said. “There are some structural things that I would like to see done within the town — structural changes in the way we finance things that could save us a considerable amount of money.”
Considerable — to the tune of $700,000, he said.
In other money matters, Chioffi proposed moving forward with a capital improvement plan for long-term growth.
“It would provide a financial plan to accomplish what the town’s goals would be for the future.”
Asked what projects the capital plan could put in motion, he suggested the possibility of a town garage.
“We presently don’t have a garage,” he said. “There’s been talk of a town garage. That might be something that’s in the plan.”
Overall, Chioffi said he hopes to spur lively discussions and introduce “healthy dissent.”
“Where’s all the discussion? I’m not just a ‘go along to get along’ kind of guy,” he said. “I want to bring up issues and actively discuss them.”
In contrast, Kiefer-Cioffi said she’s looking to speak less and listen more.
In fact, she said talking about issues beforehand “would be really premature.” She would like to get a feel for the job first, get to know the taxpayers’ interests and then discuss what she hopes to accomplish.
Kiefer-Cioffi decided to run for the board because she had time on her hands and a fondness for her community.
She said she is looking forward to working with elected officials, “to help to resolve problems when they arise in a professional manner.”
On the other hand, she said she is not looking to dredge up old issues that have already been discussed, such as the restructuring of the town’s police department, unless the townspeople feel new discussion is merited.
“We have some well-educated people running our town. ... I’m not here to undermine anyone,” she said. “Clearly there were issues that needed to be addressed and they have addressed them.”
Kiefer-Cioffi, 56, a former Rutland City police officer for 27 years, now works as a federal court security officer in Rutland. She said police work has afforded her many skills that would come in handy as a member of the Select Board.
“Listening, being one of them,” she said.
Kiefer-Cioffi said her ability to listen to others is a strength that could spur new ideas for the town’s future.
“People always have great ideas; it’s just a matter of knowing how to listen to them,” she said.
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