Kister explains why he plans to seek seat
By Nick Claussen
Athens NEWS Writer
Environmental activist Chad Kister confirmed this week that he's running for a seat on the Athens County Commission, and said he would make some definite changes if elected.
"I hope to bring a different message that could bring jobs to Athens without destroying the environment," Kister said. He has not filed his petitions yet, but said he will run in the Democratic primary against incumbent Commissioner Bill Theisen.
Theisen, who has held the post since being elected in 1992, has filed his petitions and said he will not comment on any potential candidates until they file their petitions and become official candidates.
Kister said that he wants to use the environment and technology to help bring new jobs to the area.
"I think it would be easy to bring a lot of employment from... the big centers of e-commerce into Athens," Kister said. He said he does technological work from Athens, and that the university community has many resources that would help high-tech businesses grow and prosper here.
"I think Athens could be a leader in solar technology research and demonstration," Kister added. He said the Athens-based business Sunpower, Inc. is already a leader in the field, and many homes use solar electricity. Encouraging more people in the area to use solar power could help the solar power field, and increase eco-tourism because people would come here to see the many people using solar energy, he said.
"Eco-tourism, I think, has a huge potential. People want to see solar homes," Kister said. Other benefits of Athens' progressive community and the natural beauty of the area need to be highlighted to bring in more tourists, Kister added.
"If we were to really work on letting people know what we have here in Athens, I think we could greatly increase tourism and create jobs without the adverse effects of logging and coal mining," Kister said. He also wants to create more jobs using natural resources such as maple syrup and edible mushrooms. Companies in Vermont sell maple syrup, Kister said, and he thinks companies could sell it here, too. He said he has gotten maple syrup from area trees before, and it is very good.
As a county commissioner, Kister said he would encourage more public participation and try to get more people to attend board meetings. He would work on drafting a strategic comprehensive plan for the county setting out land uses for environmental purposes and for development.
"Instead of doing everything piecemeal... we should really think as a community about which direction we are going and which direction we want to go," Kister said. Areas need to be designated for tourism, development, environmental concerns and other issues, so the county can have good progress, Kister said.
As a commissioner, Kister said he would also increase the amount of bike trails in the county. Doing so, he said, would bring more tourists to the area and give local residents more transportation alternatives.