BRISTOL — John Moyers has thrown his hat in the ring along with incumbent John “Peeker” Heffernan for a two-year seat on the Bristol selectboard.
Both will be on the Town Meeting Day ballot in Bristol.
Moyers, who has yet to hold an elective office, has long been eyeing a spot on Bristol’s zoning board and planning commission, but after failing to get appointed to either, opted to try for the selectboard seat.
“There are a number of reasons why I’m running,” Moyers said in an interview last week. “Selectboard races here are rarely contested, which I think is a bad thing for Bristol. It breeds complacency.”
At the very least, Moyers said, a little competition will help “spark debate and discussion about important issues.”
For Moyers, two key issues sit high on his agenda: promoting increased civic engagement and preserving Bristol’s historic downtown and village neighborhoods.
“If we don’t have people involved in government, we don’t have the government we deserve,” Moyers said. “I’ve worked very hard to increase participation from the public.”
According to Moyers, he has worked hard to increase attendance at public meetings and forums through Smart Growth for Bristol, the organization that he co-founded in 2004.
By focusing on issues such as planning, zoning and changes to the town plan, Moyers hopes to be one of many officials responsible for shaping how Bristol will look in future years.
“I think we need to work really hard to build a sustainable economy in town and protect our rural village character and our environment while maintaining a working landscape,” he said. “We need to keep out things like heavy industry, large-scale development and sprawl — I feel very strongly that this is not what Bristol residents want. We need to attract more light industry and more infrastructure, and I think we need to find a way to boost our agricultural economy.”
Moyers currently spends his days managing three downtown Bristol properties that house both business and residential tenants — the Bristol Mill, the Little Mill and the Bristol Trading Post. Each of these, Moyers said, is a historic building that he repurposed to “keep downtown Bristol vibrant.”
Though Moyers grew up in New York City and has lived in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., also, at various points in his life, he says he’s been “in and around Addison County and Vermont since 1982.” Since Moyers graduated from Middlebury College in 1986, he has moved back and forth between Vermont and other regions of the United States. In 2004, he “moved back full time” to Bristol.
“I’ve been a property owner in Bristol for 10 years,” he said.
In addition to managing real estate, Moyers has worked as a reporter, an editor and a radio journalist and has worked for or served on the boards of various nonprofits, including People for the American Way and WNYC, the New York City public radio station.
Though serving as an elected town official would be a new experience for him, Moyers said he would love the opportunity to give back to his community.
“Having been frustrated so far, I think this is my best option,” Moyers said. “Bristol’s my adoptive home. I’m grateful for being welcomed in. It’s a great town and a special place, and I hope to perpetuate that.”
Tamara Hilmes is at firstname.lastname@example.org.