“A LITTLE PEPPERSPECTIVE” – Campaigning for Norwich Selectboard
The following was a post sent to the Town of Norwich Listserve a few days before the election in 2017.
64. A LITTLE PEPPERSPECTIVE… John Pepper
From: John S Pepper <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2017 23:40:35 -0500
“Beware of the Listserve,” I was told as I passed in my petition at Tracy Hall on January 31. “Do not show any thin skin.”
I shared that story this past Tuesday night at the terrific Norwich Women’s Club candidate’s forum and it got a few laughs as I recall. And I laughed too.
Well, that was before I saw Ernie’s post earlier this evening that many of you just finished reading. Ouch. (I’ve responded to him separately). My neighbor Stuart Richards earlier called me a “relative newcomer” and the holder of “strange ideas”… but I take Ernie’s more personally. In any event, I thought it was time to share a little more about me on the Listserve.
Let me start by saying thank you to all 45 of you who signed my petition to run for Selectboard. Emboldened by a few conversations and clutch phone calls in the preceding days, I spent 4 hours on the day of the deadline driving to wherever you would meet me who my pen and two white pieces of paper. It was great having an excuse to see friends and meet new neighbors.
And thank you to the other three candidates for Selectboard who are all so dedicated to Norwich in their own unique ways and have made this more fun than I had ever anticipated. It’s especially rewarding to run with a good friend who I have so much respect for – John Langhus. It didn’t hurt that he and his wife Jenn and our friends the Miles’ were partnered in the Hanover Morano Gelato together… gelato brings people together!
Finally, to all 100+ of you who attended the Forum on Tuesday… all of the candidates remarked how much we enjoyed the questions, the discussion, the debate. The hardest question of the night came from my 11-year old daughter Izzy, and despite my (joking) facial warnings for her to sit down, she “persisted”… and was I ever proud of her.
I first came to the Upper Valley 30 years ago in 1987. I lived across the river as one of those meddling Dartmouth students and crossed over only on occasion to hit the Copper Mines, Gile Mountain, the Pool, or perhaps to ride my 1975 Yamaha motorcycle up and down Route 5 with the mandatory stop at Dan & Whit’s.
Years later as a 2nd year at Tuck in the mid-90’s I lived on Hawk Pine Road with five other classmates.
We contributed significantly to the fiscal 1997 DPW revenue line items. Every one of us wrecked our cars somewhere between Hawk Pine and the Ledyard bridge. Nevertheless, we all agreed even then that we were blessed to have chosen a house in Norwich for even a few hours of escape from the rough and tumble of the “city” of Hanover.
Finally, a few years later, in 2002, visiting from Boston, while I was trying to transform my formerly beloved Peter Christian’s into an inspired burrito joint today known as Boloco, my wife unbeknownst to me was cozying up with a charming real estate agent. One day… she asked me to go for a drive. And not too much later, she hit me with the question… can we live here?? I honestly didn’t know if we could at first, but soon capitulated, as that tends to have better long-term outcomes I have found!
We looked all over the Upper Valley, and in the end we chose Norwich. It felt right from the beginning. We bought a salt-box home about 4 miles up Turnpike Road and lived there for most of the following 11 years.
In 2013, having spent the last few years mostly in Boston, we had a chance to move again. I was jobless for the first time in 16 years (which ended up being short-lived) and we had a window. We thought about returning to Maggie’s hometown of SF, or perhaps doing something in the suburbs of Boston, or even going abroad for a year or two.
In the end, it was a visit to Marion Cross that made the decision for us. It was Mr. Bill. And the friends we had left who were still here. And Dan & Whit’s. Gile Mountain. And knowing there couldn’t be any better place to bring up our kids than Norwich, Vermont.
We moved from our Turnpike home into a beautiful house on Betty Booth’s old property on Elm Street and haven’t looked back. We truly do love it here. If given the honor to serve as a Selectboard member, I will give it everything I’ve got to make this a town we ALL proudly call home.
My campaign, if you can call it that, is based on positivity, a can-do attitude, and empathy for varying points of view.
First… I will listen.
AS CEO and co-founder of Boloco, I have stayed very close to customers and employees alike. I’ve fielded and personally responded to thousands and thousands of comments and complaints related to my business for over 20 years (Boloco turned 20 one week ago). I guess you could say its in my DNA. While I can’t do what everyone wants, I can make sure people know their opinions are heard and matter, regardless of how far fetched they may be (sometimes the most ludicrous opinions can actually lead to the best solutions, I’ve found).
Second… I will be balanced.
I have my own opinions on many things. Some are very strong as those close to me can attest. I try to choose my battles wisely. I will do that as a Selectboard member as I have done in my business and on many for-profit and non-profit boards in my past. I typically believe in remaining open-minded until a meaningful level of risk has been reached. At that point, the information and data need to be simplified and decisions that best suit the affected constituents need to made. That is where I may show some teeth in the battles I choose. One important point…the battles I choose will not necessarily, and usually do not, benefit me personally.
Third… Norwich is and always has been a family town. And the Selectboard could use more members who are in direct and frequent contact with that demographic.
My wife Maggie and I have 3 kids, ages 13, 11 and 3. All of them were born at Hitchcock and all of them came home to our old house off of Turnpike. Tibby goes to Richmond, Izzy goes to Marion Cross, and Bo goes to Montessori across the river. Since moving into town, being so close to the action for the past 3 years has given me an even greater appreciation for how special Norwich is for our family and the hundreds of others who call this home.
Most importantly I want to help Norwich to remain a beautiful town from the outside –which most agree it is– but also to help it be a town that is beautiful from the inside out. I hear too often that’s not the case and look forward to trying my hand at bringing a positive tone to a small local town government.
If anything I’ve done qualifies me to represent the Town of Norwich in your eyes, I would sure appreciate your vote. And of course I’m always open to hearing from you, whether it be related to Selectboard questions or why we didn’t put enough chicken or forgot the guac in your Classic Mexican Burrito yesterday.
95 Elm Street
My Linked In Bio: http://bit.ly/pepperbio