Rutland Area NAACP Releases Election Survey Results
The Rutland Area branch of the NAACP is pleased to share the results of its 2022 Racial Justice Survey for candidates for municipal office in Bennington, Rutland, and Addison counties.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded 113 years ago with the vision of ensuring a society in which all persons enjoy equal rights free from discrimination based on race. The Rutland Area branch of the NAACP serves Vermonters in Bennington, Rutland, and Addison counties by providing education, advocacy, and support around issues of racial justice, equity, and discrimination.
With municipal elections coming up on March 1, 2022, the branch formulated a Racial Justice Survey for candidates for select boards and school boards in Bennington, Rutland, and Bennington counties. The survey was distributed to candidates in the larger towns and cities by email when email was available and also made widely available through social media and through Front Porch Forum. The goal was to both allow candidates to make their positions known, and to inform our members and the public of the positions of candidates relating to racial justice.
“While the focus is often on statewide and national elections, we consider local elections very important. So much of what makes BIPOC people feel safe, valued, and welcome – or to not feel safe, valued, and welcome – happens locally, in our communities and our schools,” said Brian Sawyer, Chair, Political Action Committee. “Select board and school board members, as local leaders, have a vital role to play in ensuring equity and inclusion, yet local elections are often overlooked. Low voter turnout is all too common. Our hope is that our survey will encourage our members and the public to vote, while also allowing them to make informed decisions about whom to vote for.”
The Racial Justice Survey includes the following questions –
- Why are you running for office?
- Do you see systemic racism exemplified in Vermont and across the country?
- If elected, how will you center equity and inclusion? Please give specific ways that you would incorporate this while in service.
The survey resulted in a total of 32 responses, which represents a small fraction of the total number of candidates for these offices.
“Outreach to candidates in our areas was far-reaching and there was plenty of opportunity for candidates who were paying attention to respond to this survey. Therefore, no response to this survey is also a response in my opinion,” said Mia Schultz, president of the Rutland Area NAACP. “Those candidates who did not respond to this survey or did not find value in filling out this survey, are sending a clear message about their willingness to have the difficult conversations that we need to have concerning racial justice. That should be something that voters consider while casting their votes. Beyond elections, it is very telling of the need for NAACP members and the community to hold elected officials accountable to issues of racial justice even when they want to ignore it.”
Sixteen responses were from Rutland county, eleven from Addison county, and four from Bennington county. The number of candidates responding varied greatly. For example, three of four selectboard candidates in Middlebury responded, while only two of five candidates for selectboard in Bennington responded.
All responses can be viewed by clicking here. Responses are verbatim, reproduced as written by the candidates, and without editing or commentary by us.