Oscar for Selectboard

If you don’t know me already, my name is Oscar Heller and I’m running for Selectboard. I’m 35 years old, and think it’s important that the Selectboard represent younger generations, especially with Ian not running for re-election. If we want to attract young people to our town and our state, we need to give their values - my values - a voice. Let’s start with affordable housing (how can you work here if you can’t find an apartment?). From there it’s climate resilience (who wants to buy a moldy house with a 10/10 flood risk?), public transit, downtown beautification, community safety, and a dozen other things.

I want to get to know you better. Tell me how the Selectboard can help you! Please reach out anytime.

I was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island, then found Brattleboro through Camp Waubanong when I was fourteen. Coming to Brattleboro was the highlight of my summer, and when I was too old to come as a camper, I worked as a counselor. In the meantime I graduated from McGill University in Montreal with a major in political science, and moved to California to play guitar. In 2014, the band I was in was falling apart, and I wanted a change. I packed up my little Hyundai, the same one I drive today, and drove back across the country to Brattleboro. I've lived here ever since.

I’ve created two small businesses here, 10F Design and Winterland Marketing. Many of you have been my clients. I know the struggles of the small business life, and I know the satisfaction of building something of your own, protecting it and nurturing it, until suddenly it’s a substantial thing with clients across Vermont. I also know how, when you’re struggling, a tiny act of generosity or encouragement can be meaningful. That’s what Brattleboro businesses need: not a firehose of money the town can’t afford, but thoughtful gestures that say “we know it’s hard, and because we value you we thought we’d do this for you.” (Let’s get those parklets back!)

I’ve lived in the same building on Elliot Street for seven years. At first I was a renter. Then our building went up for sale, and when I saw out-of-state buyers touring the apartments, I crunched some numbers and managed to buy it myself. I’ve tried to keep my life as a renter vivid in my mind, so while I understand the pains and stresses of being a landlord - and believe me, they exist! - I also remember the uncertainty and powerlessness of renting. I do my best to be decent and understanding.

I believe in the Duct Tape Principle. We're a small, rural town with limited funds. We need to patch and repair and keep things running. The best solution is the practical and efficient one. We don't always need the shiny new model.

One day, Mollie Burke and Kathleen White came to my door campaigning for Mollie. They took an interest in me, and their conversation reawakened a lifetime interest in politics and public service. Mollie recommended I apply to the Energy Committee, and I was appointed and served for five years. In 2019 I joined Representative Town Meeting, and was appointed to the Finance Committee.

I joined the Finance Committee to learn. The job of the Finance Committee is to research, understand, and explain the town budget. In practice, that means complete immersion in the business of the Selectboard, and an apprenticeship in the workings of the town’s government and departments. I spent four years learning from my colleagues, watching meetings, researching questions with town staff, analyzing policy, and reporting our findings to Representative Town Meeting. Those four years taught me how the town works.

What else to say? I spend my time working to sustain and grow two businesses, managing my building and helping my tenants. I’m still on the Finance Committee, and as of today (February 10) we’re in the middle of writing our report. I’m learning tennis and play every chance I get. I write a little, read less than I should (last week it was Tana French, this week it’s Robert Caro), and got tired of streaming services so I bought a Blu-Ray player and am putting together a small collection. If you visit the park on Elliot Street when it’s warm, my two cats may come say hello.