MONTPELIER – Seven candidates are running for three seats on the Montpelier City Council in the March election.   District 1  Councilor Dona Bate is running for a third two-year term against challenger Charles Numa Haase.  Dona Bate  Councilor Dona Bate has served since 2014. She has been the president and owner of DBate Speaking since 2005, working as a speaker, public speaking coach and group trainer; a group facilitator for creating business and organization messaging and branding; and facilitating worksite roundtable discussion and dispute resolution.  Bate previously worked as CEO of Wheels, a public transportation company; as a Montpelier Police Department meter officer, and dispatch and special event officer; and as a customer service representative and international meditation statewide director for Ohio Bell & National Life Insurance.  Her academic background includes coursework with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, and a bachelor's degree in community advocacy, mediation and law from Woodbury College. She also studied psychology at Community College of Vermont and library science at Ohio State University.  Bate's community service and memberships include: Central Vermont Public Safety Authority; Montpelier Infrastructure Committee; the Regional Planning Commission Transportation Advisory Committee; Montpelier Rotary Club; Lost Nation Theater; Central Vermont Chamber and Savvy Speakers Toastmaster Club.  "I’m running for re-election to the District 1 City Council position because I want to continue to improve safety, service and sustainability," Bate said.  Bate said she would work to keep residents safe from physical harm and prejudicial harassment. She said she was also committed to rebuilding Montpelier's aging infrastructure. "This includes our streets, bridges, buildings, underground utilities, water treatment plant, drinking water plant and parks," she said.  Other projects Bate identified included renovating or rebuilding the recreation center, and long-term sustainable goals such as making the city net-zero in terms of fossil-fuel energy use by 2030.   Councilor Bate has lived in Montpelier for 51 years. She has two adult sons and a daughter in sixth grade at Grafton School.  Charles Numa Haase  Charles Numa Haase, 70, who goes by his second given name, Numa, is a retired computer programmer with a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Vermont, and an associate degree in computer information systems from Community College of Vermont. He has also studied Spanish in Mexico and French in Quebec, Canada.  He previously worked in both website development and programming at the University of Vermont and Vermont Department of Tourism. He has also taught English as a second language in Mexico and Thailand.  His community service work has included translating for Spanish-speaking farm workers and participating in a local Latino/Spanish-speaking group. He also volunteers at the community meal soup kitchen at the Unitarian Church and plays piano at church events.  Haase, who has lived in Montpelier for 30 years, said he decided it was time to participate in city government.  "I think it would be good to have some new faces and ideas on the council," Haase said. "I promise that I will always listen to all sides and try to make the best decisions possible."  Haase said it was also important to work to be inclusive at a time of national division over important issues like immigration.  "We need to encourage the Vermont values of working out our disagreements in a respectful way rather than by punitive laws," Haase said.  Haase said his technical skills and experience in languages, education and social interaction would be helpful in making a contribution to civic life.  "I am a fast learner and am eager to learn what is necessary to serve on the council, and I think I am a good listener that considers all points of view," Haase said.  Haase and his wife, Georgina, have five children.  District 2  Three candidates — Alex Geller, Ben Eastwood and Conor Casey — are running to fill the seat of Councilor Jean Olson, who is not seeking re-election.  Alex Geller  Alex Geller, 33, is an IT business analyst for the Agency of Digital Services who has previously worked in a similar capacity for the Agency of Transportation. He has also worked as a business process and environmental analyst for the Agency of Natural Resources, and as a staff scientist/GIS technician for Pioneer Environmental Associates of Vergennes.  Geller has a bachelor's degree in geology from the University of Vermont, and a master's degree in computer information systems from Boston University.  His community service includes memberships with the Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation, Green Mountain Multisport and the Montpelier Area Mountain Bike Association.  Geller said he decided to run to address specific issues in the city and to give back to the community.  Specific issues he identified included infrastructure planning, housing and outdoor recreation.  "I am focused on these topics because they will each help strengthen the local economy, thereby ensuring that Montpelier is not eclipsed by the growth observed in nearby Waterbury and Barre City," Geller said.  Geller said the city devotes about 35 percent of its budget to infrastructure, but said it was not enough to maintain city services. However, he said the city has continued to increase infrastructure funding through the capital improvement plan. The city could also manage data and management software to improve outcome, he said.  Geller said housing in the city had become a "serious issue," noting seniors looking to downsize from larger homes, and young families unable to find smaller starter homes. He called for more infill development while preserving the character of neighborhoods.  On the recreation front, Geller called for developing the city's rivers for a variety of activities and creating mountain bike trails in city-owned forests that would draw visitors and generate revenue for the city.  Geller said he felt his technical expertise and experience could help the city find new, innovative ways to streamline services for residents.  "I have also spent a significant portion of my career and education focused on environmental science including stormwater, stream health and environmental remediation. I care deeply about this community," Geller said. "I hope to be a reasonable and objective member of the council if I am elected."  Geller and his wife, Wendy, have been residents of Montpelier for six years.  To learn more about Geller, visit www.GellerForMontpelier.com.  Ben Eastwood  Ben Eastwood, 44, has worked in a variety of positions, including paint specialist at Aubuchon's, volunteer and paid emergency medical technician, baker and chef, diesel mechanic designing biofuel conversions, historic site interpreter, and bike mechanic/human power vehicle designer and fabricator.  His community service includes membership in the Vermont Progressive Party, several years on the Montpelier Conservation Commission and work as a volunteer EMT in Brandon.   Eastwood said he was running for public office to help build a resilient infrastructure, protect the environment and preserve the city as "a great place to live, work and raise kids" for future generations.  Specific goals he cited included protecting Berlin Pond as a water source and upgrading water mains in the city; upgrading the city wastewater treatment facility and stormwater system; and protecting riverbanks and reducing flooding risks.  Eastwood said he also wants to build trust between the police department, the city and residents. He proposed making Montpelier a stronger sanctuary city inclusive of all people, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual preference or immigration status.  Eastwood said the city needs to continue to invest in infrastructure, support a living wage and economic development for local businesses, and provide better public transportation.  Eastwood added that he wanted to unite people to work on solutions together.  "I am a skilled community organizer and coalition builder," Eastwood said. "I thrive on finding innovative solutions to complex problems."  Conor Casey  Conor Casey is the executive director of the Vermont Democratic Party, which works to elect Democrats at the federal, state and local levels.  Casey has previously worked as the political director of the Connecticut Education Association; legislative director of the Vermont State Employees Association; and as a press assistant to former Sen. Ted Kennedy.  He has a bachelor's degree in media arts from Emerson College and master's degree in communication from Dublin University.  His community service includes working as a volunteer for the Montpelier Community Justice Center and the Aida Refugee Camp in Palestine, and as a former justice of the peace in Montpelier.  As a resident of Montpelier with his wife, Pixy, for 13 years, Casey said he was running for office because he believes it's important to give back to the community.  "With several major capital construction projects on the horizon it will be important to ensure Montpelier maintains its small-town character, while charting a course that creates a more vibrant downtown," Casey said. "We have opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint, generate economic development and provide affordable housing for low-income residents."  Casey said that a professional career spent representing public employees gave him a good understanding of how government works.   "Coming from labor, I know that many of the best ideas are generated from frontline staff and I'll work hard to engage them in my decision-making process," Casey said. "I'm a good listener who will take the time to meet with my constituents and make sure the council is a transparent and accountable body."  District 3  Two candidates — Craig McDermott and Glen Coburn Hutcheson — are vying to fill the seat of Councilor Justin Turcotte, who is not seeking re-election.  Craig McDermott  Craig McDermott, 34, is a part-time Uber driver and a podcast producer with new shows premiering in April.  He drives passengers from Montpelier to destinations of their choice 3 to 10 hours a week. His podcast shows include "Tripping in Vermont," a travel show to help generate traffic for local, small and medium-sized businesses around the state to educate Americans and foreigners on Vermont as a destination.  He previously worked as a safety foreman at L&D Safety Marking Corp. in Barre and as a sous-chef and chef at Cliff House Restaurant in Stowe.  McDermott attended Lyndon State College and studied in Full Sail University's Real-World Education program for the music and entertainment industry. He also studied with the Florence Schook School of Numismatics, obtaining certificates in mint state coins and counterfeit detection of U.S. coins.  His community service includes being a veteran volunteer youth sports coach for many years, a Masonic lodge member, and an active volunteer with Union Elementary School's ECO program.  As a longtime resident of Montpelier, McDermott said he would like to address the cost of living and renting or owning property in the city.  "Local taxes are a huge factor that drove me toward seeking office; the taxes cannot continue to rise year in and year out. I am committed to finding solutions without finding deep cuts," McDermott said. "In addition, I am committed to ensuring a business-friendly Montpelier while maintaining the high standards we have for our districts and city spaces and preserving the great environment we are afforded as residents of Montpelier."  McDermott said he is also committed to addressing the needs of the elderly residents, environmental issues, recreational needs and parking problems in the city.  "I am running to represent the people of the district and I am extremely passionate about the job," McDermott said. "I intend to attend every meeting and actively seek out the opinions and positions of the voters."  Glen Coburn Hutcheson  Glen Coburn Hutcheson is an artist and picture framer at The Drawing Board in Montpelier and previously worked at The Skinny Pancake and the former Rhapsody Café. He has also worked in large-scale kitchens at the Pendle Hill retreat center and Beacon Hill Friends House, both Quaker establishments in Massachusetts, and as an assistant to Boston sculptor Nancy Selvage.  In community service, Hutcheson has worked at The Front and T.W. Wood art galleries, Washington County Youth Service Bureau, and as an after-school teacher in Barre.  "I'm convinced that we should all participate in local government," Hutcheson said. "I plan to live here for the rest of my life, so I want to help shape Montpelier for the next 30 years and beyond." Hutcheson said he wanted to focus on the resiliency of the downtown, flooding issues, and promoting dialogue with the community.  A candidate forum at Montpelier Senior Activity Center on Barre Street, moderated by the League of Women Voters of Vermont, will be held Tuesday, Feb. 20, from noon to 2 p.m. stephen.mills@timesargus.com 

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