For O’Connor, this is what comprises community

BRATTLEBORO — A letter to the editor in last week's Commons [“What exactly do we mean by 'community'?,” Aug. 8] asked me to answer the question, “What is community?”

For me, Brattleboro is:

• The hometown where my great-grandfather arrived from Ireland at age 20, working as a laborer at downtown's W.H. Vinton & Son paper mill until his death in a plant accident in 1915.

• The hometown where my grandfather, who lost his father at age 8 and his mother at age 15 (she died of tuberculosis), was taken in by Elliot Street neighbors and sent to college by the owner of Barrows Coal Co.

• The hometown where my father grew up on Grove and Spruce streets to become a District 3 state representative and win election as the Vermont House's first-ever Democratic speaker.

• The hometown where I attended St. Michael's, Green Street, and Brattleboro Union High schools before going on to major in political science at Bates College and work for Vermont governors Madeleine Kunin, Howard Dean, and Peter Shumlin.

• The hometown where I - now a District 3 House candidate - have spent the summer aiming to meet every voter through door-to-door visits in which I explain my support for social equity and women's health rights, for redeveloping downtown, and for ensuring a strong local economic and employment picture upon the eventual closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

• The hometown where, in the face of a few who try to mischaracterize me, I remember serving as a marshal of this year's July 4 parade and, specifically, the “Welcome Our Future” section that featured the banners “Standing on the Side of Love” and “Hate Has No Home Here.”

I encourage voters with questions about the Aug. 28 primary to stop me downtown, call me at 802-490-2073 or email [email protected].

Because for me, Brattleboro is the hometown where I believe all people - regardless of political, socioeconomic, or cultural differences - should treat each and every neighbor with kindness and respect.

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