Candidates for State Representative: John Killacky

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Thursday October 25, 2018

Name: John Killacky, District 7-3
Party: Democrat

Education: Hunter College, New York, B.A., Summa cum Laude.

Occupation: Recently retired as executive director of the Flynn Center
Years as SB resident: Eight

 

 1. What skills and experience uniquely qualify you for the position of State Representative? (100 words)

 

For the last eight years, I ran the Flynn Center, employing over 275 people annually. Access and inclusion were central while presenting acclaimed artistic, educational, and community engagement programs within a $7.7 million balanced budget.

Commentaries of mine aired on VPR and were published in VTDigger and Burlington Free Press. I served on the boards of Vermont Business Roundtable, Vermont Community Foundation, and Vermont Tax Department. I often testified in Montpelier before legislative committees about the essential contributions of nonprofit organizations. With my experience, I want to work to make Vermont an even better place for all people to thrive.

 

2. What is the most important statewide legislative issue to be addressed in the upcoming term, and what specific solutions do you suggest or support in overcoming the problem? (100 words)

We have an affordability crisis in Vermont. Many middle and lower income families are in trouble and as an aging state, it is imperative to attract younger people to move here with their families. Affordable wages, family leave, expansion of day care and pre-school opportunities, workforce development, affordable housing, and better protection for renters must be addressed.

However, states with less income tax are attracting wealthier Vermonters to live six months and a day in their locale, and we are losing out. The fallback answer cannot be to merely tax the rich further.

 

3 What are the key issues 1) in your own district, and 2) in the City of South Burlington? How will you address these locally and on the state level?  (200 words)

Knocking on doors, I’ve been learning as I listen to my neighbors:
• Seniors feeling helpless, struggling with unsustainable rent increases;
• Homeowners moving out of state because of high property taxes; and
• Young families coping with the cost of housing, low paying jobs, and lack of affordable child care.

Meetings with advocates for affordable housing, health care, environment, workforce development, and early childhood education introduced me to effective strategies to employ. Participating in community conversations about the future of Act 250 and land use regulations was important to understand what is needed in South Burlington as well as throughout the state to achieve a balanced ecosystem. I was inspired while visiting Treatment Courts in Barre and Burlington; people with addiction and mental illness were treated with dignity and given another chance. I was privileged to become more familiar with the extraordinary Lund organization in South Burlington that supports pregnant and parenting teens, young adults, and adoptive families. I am honored to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund. I want to help make our state an even better place for all to thrive. People-centered programs can be delivered while striving toward a pragmatic economic bottom line.

4 What specific priorities or objectives do you hope to accomplish if elected? (100 words)

Judicious tax reform and school refinancing must be balanced to ensure no child is left behind. De-linking school funding and property taxes is being discussed with more burden going to the general fund. Schools with declining populations have an opportunity to reinvent themselves as community centers also providing day care, pre-school, after-school, and senior activities.

My advocacy will continue for shelters, food banks, affordable housing, education, theaters, museums, libraries, social service agencies, environmental and other nonprofit organizations employing more than 61,000 Vermonters — 17 percent of the state’s workforce. This sector is essential in shoring up our fraying safety net.