15-year Journey towards Equal Representation
Fairness First co-founder Irene Wrenner has worked to remedy Essex representation issues, over the past 15 years, because she sees Fair Representation as the key to better community relations.
Back in 2005, she first learned about the imbalance as an appointed member of the Merger Task Force.
She researched alternatives, settling on a mathematically elegant solution called Proportional Representation. (Burlington was using instant runoff voting at the time; therefore, Essex might have benefited from a ranked-choice voting system as well.)
Irene proposed Proportional Representation to the MTF as an alternative means of voting to provide a voice that her friends in the Village were lacking.
Irene commissioned a report from the experts at FairVote – a nonpartisan champion of electoral reforms – which published a case study in 2006 called "The Missing Half" about the unfair representation issues that have plagued Essex for decades.
This charter change effort would have never gotten off the ground without the energy and passion of co-founder Ken Signorello, a Village business owner and TOV resident. And, of course, without 1,083 signatures from residents, this question wouldn't be on the March ballot. Thanks to everyone who helped us get here!
She tabled at the 2006 Village Annual Meeting, encouraging Village residents to run for Selectboard, because she didn’t think it was fair that the TOV populated all the seats back then when the populations of both districts were nearly equal.
The banners you see on this page were purchased out-of-pocket by Irene to highlight the issue.
In April 2018, Irene submitted a petition with 300 signatures, asking the Selectboard to remedy inadequate representation. The Selectboard had 3 TOV and 2 Village residents at the time.
This charter change proposal is her latest effort.
She has learned from the past that the solution needs to be simple, already working nearby (and it is, at EWSD!), and enacted by people who see clearly the problem and want it resolved.
After all the failed merger efforts and boardroom bullying, she finds it curious that the current Selectboard bent over backwards to find fault with this Fair Representation proposal.
Indeed, it's time to replace the current dysfunctional, and, at times, abusive, system of control with a format that can truly help us have conversa-tions with each other on equal footing with some give-and-take decision-making.
This page addresses the accusation from opponents that Irene has just recently become concerned about Fair Representation. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Irene has also stated repeatedly that she will not run for a future Selectboard seat, because she considers it a conflict of interest to work to guarantee seats in both districts and then run for one of them.