Like puzzles? Check out my beaver puzzle!
I took this photo of a beaver on the shores of Stockbridge Bowl. It's now an online puzzle! Check it out:
Postscript to what I've written
I am running a campaign of ideas, not personal attacks. Regardless of who you are supporting for elected town positions, I strongly encourage our citizens to do the same. When someone who currently serves on a town board is attacked, not only does it do a disservice to this neighbor who volunteers his or her time to make Stockbridge a better place, it also makes it harder for us to recruit future individuals to appoint to these boards and discourages future candidates for our elected offices. I've outlined my positions on a wide range of issues on these pages. If you agree with these positions, please by all means vote for me. If not, don't. Either way, I will continue to help the town in whatever role I am asked to serve. Thanks. LET'S KEEP IT POSITIVE.
A vision for Stockbridge
Please also visit my Questions and Answers page.
Hello. My name is Patrick White and I am running to serve as your Stockbridge Selectman.
First, a little about me. I live on Hawthorne St. over by Tanglewood in the house I grew up in. I own a small business that provides marketing communications services. I also am the part-time business manager for Berkshire Waldorf High School on Pine St. in Stockbridge, where I am in charge of budgeting, finance and business affairs for the school. I've founded several start-up businesses funded by venture capital and have spent a career accountable to boards and investors.
My volunteer activities include the Laurel Hill Association of Stockbridge, where I serve on the Board of Trustees as Vice President. I also volunteer at the Talbot Center, Saturday afternoons (I plan to resume once it re-opens). I've also served by running the Berkshire Botanical Garden's book sale for the last several years. I am LHA's representative on the board of the Stockbridge Bowl Association. I currently serve as Co-Chairman of Stockbridge Bowl Stewardship Committee and on the Stockbridge Cultural Council and the Conservation Commission. I am a member of the Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce.
I am running because I believe the town needs to take bold action to preserve and protect the character of Stockbridge. I grew up here, and graduated from Monument Mountain in 1980. Growing up in Stockbridge was a wonderful way to spend a childhood. When I was a kid, we had at least 25 kids in my neighborhood. Many of my peers in the 1960s and 1970s are the children you see in Norman Rockwell's paintings. Fast forward to 2020 and I see no children in my neighborhood at all. Instead, we see more and more of our homes snapped up by AirBnB investors.
I want to continue the effort to preserve all that is good about Stockbridge as the Norman Rockwell town I grew up in and love, while also allowing the very residents who "made" this town what it is today, to be able to afford to still live here. I shall work hard to achieve ways to accomplish that goal while also increasing our town's sources of revenue so it can remain affordable for you to continue to live in the town you helped build.
As we look to the future, we need to ask ourselves what kind of town we want to be? What are we doing to attract first-time home buyers and young families to Stockbridge? Not nearly enough.
The same is true for the challenge we face regarding elderly housing. With approximately half the residents of this town aged 60 or older, some folks are realizing that they have too much house for this stage in their lives. A person or couple who has lived here all or part of their lives shouldn't have to move out of Stockbridge just because their home is now too big for them to manage.
There are three types of owners of residential property in Stockbridge. Year-round residents, second homeowners, and AirBnB speculators. In the past 50 years, we've seen a steady decline in full-time residents. I would like to see, and advocate for, more families making the choice to raise their children here year-round.
It has been suggested to me that we can't do anything about this. That these are market trends. That this is the price of being the cultural epicenter of the Berkshires. That we are victims of our own success by maintaining our rural charm, by prioritizing open space and natural beauty over strip malls and suburban density. That it's just a matter of time before 80-90% of our town is owned by second homeowners and AirBnB investors. That we need be resigned to being a ghost town nine months a year. I vigorously reject this view.
I believe the town can enact policies that will make Stockbridge more accessible to first-time homebuyers. I believe the town has the duty to take care of its seniors and create more housing to accommodate their needs as they age out of their homes.
In my view, our town government needs to recognize that attracting young families and providing our elderly with options is fundamental to our values. We need to continue the conversation about what kind of town we want to be. We need to enact policies that build real community. For me, that means a town that is committed to young and old, a town that nurtures its residential nature, a town that its employees can afford to live in, that attracts entrepreneurs as well as artists. A town that is vibrant year round. A town where there are children in our parks and in our streets, not just in paintings from yesteryear in the Rockwell museum.
We need to do all this while not raising taxes on our most vulnerable residents. According to the state, 42% of our year-round residents are low to moderate income. Many of our neighbors, more than you might realize, are on fixed incomes and already struggle to pay taxes that have ballooned with the rise in assessments. We need to find ways to preserve the character of our town without further burdening this already vulnerable population.
So how do we get there? Let's start by building consensus among our Select Board, Planning Board, Finance Committee and Community Preservation Committee to define the values we should fight for. The hard work to enact policies that foster these values is worth the effort. We could start by exploring new revenue opportunities while not increasing residents' property tax burdens. By advocating for zoning bylaws such as accessory dwelling units that create revenue streams for residents to make mortgages more affordable. By using the resources of Community Preservation to provide down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers. By making sure that when appropriate and realistic, that developers contribute to a missing-middle housing fund, similar to what communities from Lenox to Boston already do. By committing to elderly housing so folks can stay in the town where they spent their lives. By better funding elderly tax assistance/relief so that no one on a fixed income ever has to choose between paying their taxes and buying groceries or filling prescriptions.
COVID-19 adds an unexpected hurdle to getting this work done. I recognize the need to make this the town's top management priority, and understand it may require budgetary caution that may make it harder in the short term to champion bold initiatives. I dream with optimism. I manage with prudence and restraint. I am more likely to embrace a budgetary path than acknowledges the worst-case scenario rather than one that throws caution to the wind.
It has been my honor to serve on several town boards and to regularly attend meetings of many others. I am so impressed by the volunteers who serve on our elected and appointed town boards and committees. I promise to treat you with respect and welcome your insights. You've earned it and you deserve it. I believe we need to leverage the skills and dedication of these talented individuals to enact tax, zoning and funding policies that reflect the values we have as a community.
I have no illusion that this will be easy. A good select board has to find time to provide leadership, to prioritize initiatives, to be the glue that keeps town boards and committees working together for a common purpose and the common good. All while competently managing the town's day-to-day affairs. The only way this is possible is through hard work, a commitment to listening and a resolve to make the hard decisions that align with the town's vision and values. If you elect me, I will do the hard work to listen to your ideas and your concerns, to improve the management of the town, and to help steer this ship in ways that preserve the character and community that have defined us for nearly 300 years.
My apologies this was so long, but we are in a difficult season of course, making it hard to run a face-to-face campaign. I think a longer letter provides you with better insight into my thinking, which is reasonable to expect from me as I ask for your vote. Give me a call at 298-2125 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk on the phone, in one of our yards or somewhere in town. I welcome the chance to listen and discuss your vision for Stockbridge. Together we can accomplish great things.
Please also visit my Questions and Answers page.