Editor's note: The following is an interview with Board of Selectmen candidate Virginia Mooney as part of a continuing series featuring interviews with the candidates for selectmen and Planning Board.
Virginia Mooney is no stranger to town government or running for office and she is back in the race for Board of Selectmen this year. Mooney has been a Town Meeting member for 36 years and was a member of the Board of Selectmen from 1988 to 1991. She has also volunteered on the Housing Partnership Committee, the Burlington Finance Committee and the B-Line Advisory Committee among other positions. She has also held state appointments, including the By-Law Review Committee and spots in the Democratic party and she has volunteered for many organizations in town.
Mooney said that being involved with the community is something that comes naturally to her and something she has done her entire life.
"It’s been a long haul in the years I spent in town but I’ve really been happy doing it," she said. "My husband thinks I’m crazy but I have a feeling this is something I have to do. It makes me feel good that I’m doing it, which is a big part of life."
I've always been involved," she added, "first with my children and their activities and then with the town. I have been involved in church and community events. When Town Meeting came along I put in my name, got my signatures and won a seat. I got the spirit and it hasn’t left me since."
Mooney, who has been running for Board of Selectmen for decades and has participated in multiple races. She said this year she is inspired to run to help address some of the problems and issues facing the town.
The first issue she said she'd like to see the board undertake is the number of liquor licenses in town. Mooney said she feels Burlington has too many establishments that sell alcohol and that it will lead to safety problems.
"I’d like to see the liquor license issue resolved," she said. "Every new building has a restaurant and they have licenses. "There are too many places in town where people can drink and our roads are far too busy for people driving impaired. It's way too easy to get and that will lead to accidents."
Mooney added that in her view the town needs less service industry, such as restaurants, and a larger focus on different types of commerce.
"We need things like light manufacturing and commercial trade, this will benefit us more in the long run more than restaurants," she said. "The town is trying to survive on restaurants and liquor sales, and that won’t happen, and now we're over-saturated with those.
Mooney suggested that rather than service industry projects the town should work with the state to attract manufacturing and high-tech companies.
"We need to bring in permanent jobs, not a restaurant jobs," she said. "The Board of Selectmen should interact with the governor and the state and see what they can do to help. If manufacturing is coming into the state, the state government can help locate businesses in Burlington. What we need to do is make sure they know they are welcome."
Mooney said she also had a suggestion to help tackle the town's health insurance issues. Recently, it was made public that the town's employee due to the program switch and a high number of claims late in 2011. Mooney suggests the town move to the Commonwealth's Group Insurance Program (GIC), that she said she and her husband have used for years.
"I’d like to see these health insurance changes," she said. "I think it will save the people in town money and the town a lot of money. It will save thousands or up to millions of dollars on the town side if they adopt the state program. Plus, they take good care of you, no matter what you need, you can get it."
Finally, Mooney said her experience and her difference in perspective would make her an asset on the board.
First, she pointed out that she is the only woman running for a seat on an all-male board, and she said that makes a big difference.
"I’m a woman, it’s too bad the women have been forced out in a way," she said. "There have been some great women on the board. Women bring a little different perspective to board, their mindset is a little different, more willing to approach to compromise. If you listen to the current board, there is no real compromise there."
She also said her long experience in town government and her community participation has given her the background, knowledge and personal connections that would help get things accomplished if elected.
"My experience would help me on the board," she said. "I have been involved with police, fire, and public works departments and I have worked with the library administration. Those are things I was active on when selectmen, when I was a liaison with the police and fire departments, and I deal with them everyday as a Town Meeting member. I know the departments and that would help if I were elected."