Reis: Compassion is at the core of her being

I have known Jaki Reis for about 40 years. While we share about 90% of our political views, we don't agree on every issue. But she always listens to what people have to say and has solid reasons for her views. So this is an endorsement based on her character and experience, not specific issues.

Jaki has a cornucopia of skills and experience from the variety of fields she has worked in: paralegal, bookkeeper, and assistant office manager for New York law firms; real estate broker; housing quality inspector for insurance companies.

She has worked for the Brattleboro assessors' office; for the U.S. Census Bureau; for the chamber of commerce; as a Cruise Ship performer; as a pre-school teacher, including one-on-one with a special needs child; as a community volunteer; as a film festival organizer; as movie and hotel administrator at the Latchis; as a rental building owner and manager.

She did all this starting as a single mother on welfare in New York City.

Jaki is scrupulously honest and has the utmost integrity. She is strong and very capable, but she is willing to change her views based on new information, and she does so without hesitation. She listens, has a real thirst for knowledge, and cares about fairness for everyone.

She is a tireless proponent of safe, healthy, loving environments for children. She studied childhood development and counseling.

Jaki is extremely responsible and not interested in getting credit for what she does. Not that she is modest - she knows her abilities, but she doesn't care if others notice and she often does not get the credit that she deserves.

Here are just a couple of things that show what kind of person she is.

When Covid hit, Jaki, some others, and I volunteered to make deliveries for Nicole Reisman, who offered free meals to anyone who needed them. This made it possible for Nicole's Community Kitchen to expand.

As the need and production increased, so did the problems and confusion. So we took over the logistics of delivery, finding drivers, organizing their routes, and setting up feedback channels to fix mistakes.

Jaki's keen insight into details made this a very efficient and productive process, and Nicole ended up being able to feed hundreds of people over many months. Then Everyone Eats had us repeat the same system for a Thanksgiving meal that year. When Jaki takes on a job she commits to it fully.

And a minor personal story.

Her daughter left a traumatized rescue cat, named Rabbit, with her 12 years ago. Rabbit trusted no one and responded to any attention with defensive violence. It took years for her to mellow and occasionally let people pet her. Rabbit started sitting on Jaki's lap when she was safe, so to speak, but she never lost her feral ways.

Jaki had to replace several couches and rugs she ruined. She complained some, but kept caring for Rabbit lovingly during this whole time, until she died a little while ago. She did so not because she was a "crazy cat lady," but because she had taken on the responsibility for a living creature and committed to giving Rabbit the best life she could manage.

Compassion is at the core of Jaki's being, but not something she brings attention to.

Jaki is an unusual person, even by Brattleboro standards: smart, hard-working, dedicated, and thoughtful. She knows how to work collaboratively, and knows how to tap resources to get the info needed for a project.

She is my ex-wife, and I wholeheartedly support her for Selectboard.

Tony Duncan


This letter to the editor was submitted to The Commons.

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