Meet the three candidates for the GMUSD board

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The Chester Telegraph sent a series of questions to the three candidates who are vying for two three-year terms on the board of the Green Mountain Unified School District, which oversees Cavendish Town and Chester-Andover elementary schools and Green Mountain Union High.

One of those two Chester seats is currently held by Josh Schroeder, who has chosen not to run for reelection. The other was held by board Chair Deb Brown, who resigned due to health concerns.

The following questions address some of the issues for many Chester voters.  The candidates were asked to keep each of their answers to 250 words and have been lightly edited for style, spelling and grammar. Not all the candidates answered specifically to each of the questions.

You can meet these and other candidates at Candidates Night at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 23 at Town Hall, 556 Elm St. Bill Dakin will be the moderator and questions will be taken from the audience. Town Meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 4 at Town Hall and via Zoom. Voting by Australian ballot will take place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 5 at Town Hall. Or you can pick up an early voting ballot at Town Hall.

Tell the readers a little about yourself, what they should know about you.

CASEY LEAHY: My name is Casey Leahy, I am a Chester resident. My family and I have lived in Chester for over 10 years now and have truly enjoyed living in this town and being part of this community.

I have been the assistant coach for the Chester Village Wrestling Club since its inception. I enjoy being able to give time to the community in this way and help build our youth in such a challenging sport. I am a state employee for over 12 years now and have been active in the state employee union, VSEA. Being a state employee and active union member I have first hand experience in making practical, often difficult, decisions while working with a variety of others viewpoints, experiences and priorities. I know the skills I have in teamwork, collaboration and conflict resolution are positive attributes that I would bring to the school board.

RANDY MILES: Lived in Chester for 20 years now. Have two kids one graduated last year and another is a junior, both at Green Mountain. Have been a Boy Scout leader for 7 years and I am now Chester Troop 206 board chair member. We moved to Chester because of the town and schools. Nice town and community and the school was rated pretty good then. I opened and ran Front To Back Landscaping Supply Co. here in Chester for 8 years. As well as attend many other board meetings in our town.


TUCKERMAN WUNDERLE: I’m a Chester native, growing up on Ethan Allen Road and returning to live in the Chester Depot after graduating from Emerson College in Boston, Mass. As a 3rd-generation Vermonter, I value the importance of our natural environment, the resilience of our local economy, and the power of collaboration across different groups in our community.

My work focuses on exploring the intersection between human impact and the landscape, a pursuit that I carry into my volunteer efforts running artistic events indoors and outside with the Stone Village Poetry Experience. I have served as Justice of the Peace in Chester for the last year, assisted with the effort to hire Chester’s police chief, and have sat on advisory committees for the Black River Community Coalition and the Greater Springfield Community Health Equity Partnership. More than any of that, though, I hope people know me as a friendly and helpful face who is proud to call this town his home.

What prompted you to decide to run for the Board of the Green Mountain Unified School District?

RANDY MILES: I now have time if elected to the school board to help make our schools and communities better. I want to see our schools grow as well as being more fiscally minded. I would like to see our schools attract more families to our communities. Also work with board members in a respectful way to solve issues.



TUCKERMAN WUNDERLE: The success and happiness that I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy in my personal and professional life began in the halls of Chester-Andover Elementary School and Green Mountain Union High School. These institutions made me who I am, and I feel a responsibility to ensure that the students in Chester and the surrounding towns have access to an equitable education that combines learning in the classroom with hands-on, real-life skills, opportunities for recreation and sports, and creative expression and exploration through the arts.

I also believe that the students of the Green Mountain Unified School District deserve a school board that has an intimate knowledge of their day-to-day experiences. If I’m able to bring that perspective to the board I feel a social responsibility to do so to the best of my ability.

CASEY LEAHY: I decided to run for school board as I have two young children in this school district.  I want to be an active participant in the school as it is a critically influential element of children’s lives and having children in this school district I have a vested interest in its success.  Having no prior involvement with the school board I do not have a true working knowledge of the board, it’s operational by laws and limitations or recent issues.  I am seeking a seat at the table not only to be a representative-parent on the board but to learn and gain perspective that is otherwise unattainable. My priorities for the board are academic achievement for the students and student and school safety.

What two issues do you see as most important to the school district and why?

TUCKERMAN WUNDERLE: The main issue of importance, in my opinion, is a lack of transparency, accountability  and trust between the school board and members of our community, teachers and school staff, and the student body. Between district specific issues, the challenges of a global pandemic, and increasingly distracting partisanship in local and national politics the last few years have created a narrative that our school district is dysfunctional and uncooperative. Having grown up in the district, I know the value that our school system can provide when students and the community feel that they can speak and be heard.

Along with that issue comes a revitalization of the district’s identity within our small towns. Our schools should be a source of pride for all who live here, whether you’re a native of Chester or just moved to the area. The GMUSD deserves a board that can utilize our area’s limited but unique resources to establish a sense of place within a community that feels respected.

CASEY LEAHY: I hope to be able to join the board and have a positive impact on our schools and by extension the students.




RANDY MILES: A much better working school board for starters. It’s good to have open honest talks with real facts being utilized in any and all issues. I would also like to be more involved with the budget end of things. I think there is room to grow and areas to cut in trying to keep our budget lower.




In recent memory, what has the school board done right and what has it done wrong that you hope to fix?






RANDY MILES: I believe that our school board members all want to see a better school system and our students to learn as much as they can in all our schools. Their heart is in the right place. On the other side of this I feel that some members used too much of their power to try and solve a much bigger problem than what is set in front of them, My hope is to try and address the point of any problem with facts and not over- step the problem. Be respectful and to listen to all information from all board members, students, teachers, administrators and the taxpayers. There are a lot of hard issues ahead of us and my hope is to be a part of solving them.

TUCKERMAN WUNDERLE: The challenges that the board has had to face over the past few years have been as difficult as they are unprecedented. Despite that, the board has done well in considering and organizing the options for infrastructure improvements to district properties, even if these measures weren’t ultimately approved by the voters. Ensuring that our students can learn in classrooms and buildings that are physically safe and functional is paramount to our district’s success.

However, many other issues that the school board has been tasked with have become mired in partisan politics, overshadowed by a lack of accountability, and characterized by an unfortunate and often damaging disconnect between the board and our community. The board’s paramount interest should be in developing an environment where each student can feel safe, inspired and fulfilled, and that goal cannot be achieved without cooperation across party lines and between board members, school staff, and the district residents.

It’s time for us to learn from and reconcile the mistakes and challenges of the last few years, and help move the young people in our community forward into an equitable, enjoyable and prosperous future.

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