Paula Routly’s recent commentary in Seven Days got some things right and something a bit wrong in my opinion. For me, it was the piece I had been waiting for from the media in that it treated what we’re confronting as serious, urgent, and deeply concerning to many. What I think the piece missed was the idea that no one is working on it. The Lake Champlain Chamber is dedicating enormous resources to combating the problems and we are absolutely not alone in this work. There are many partner organizations, businesses, and residents working on this with incredible compassion, despite mounting frustration. That said, I agree that we won’t solve this alone and we need everyone to act and every level of government to respond. Here’s what I’d ask you to do:
If you live in Burlington: Find out who your City Councilor is and share your concerns with them, the more specifics you can include the better. Pay attention to what your city councilor says and how they vote. If you aren’t satisfied with their response, consider voting differently in March. Please consider copying [email protected] on your messages.
If you don’t live in Burlington: This is a regional issue that needs attention at the municipal, state, and federal level. Contact your legislators and voice your concerns. Ask them what they’ll do in January to improve public safety in our region. You can find your Representatives in the Vermont House and your Vermont Senators here. Please consider copying [email protected] on your messages.
Everyone: Our public safety personnel are doing their jobs in an increasingly difficult climate that is not of their making. Make a point to thank them when you see them.
As a region, we are grappling with simultaneous crises related to criminal activity, mental health, substance misuse and lack of housing. We also have a deficient criminal justice system. We are putting together policy changes so that we can demand action in Montpelier. We welcome your engagement in that work and we can put you in touch with the expert partners who are working on each of these issues if you have energy to offer them. Reach out to [email protected].
We, as individuals, can have a positive impact but we need to commit to the hard work.
Cathy Davis, President LCC