ST. ALBANS — For his 19th birthday, Brendan Deso received an unusual gift—an appointment to the St. Albans Town Planning Commission.
Deso, a recent graduate from Bellows Free Academy (BFA), St. Albans was appointed to the planning commission for a one year term on April 4.
Although Deso has been a long time St. Albans Town resident, living on Lower Newton Road, he spends the majority of his time in Swanton as the general manager for D&H Housing.
“My grandfather has been involved in real estate since the late 70s,” Deso said.
“I worked as a laborer doing what he told me to do until October,” he said. “Our office manager of ten years found a different job…I took her position and took some responsibilities I had with marketing and what not. I do the day to day.”
When asked why Deso decided to go straight into the family business instead of college, Deso said, “My grandfather was going to be 68 this year. We figured it’d the five years before I could be here without supervision.”
“I didn’t want to come back when he’s 72 and make him work till he’s 77 years old,” he said. “Anybody who works that hard their whole life, they deserve the opportunity to sit back and do whatever they want.”
During his time at BFA, Deso served as president of the student council for his senior year.
“We implemented some new things,” he said, reflecting back. “We started with about $1,100 in our coffer and we had almost $5,000 by the time I was gone. We gave a lot of it away and still managed to climb. So that was a great opportunity to get some life leadership skills.”
Also serving as the BFA school representative on the school board, Deso said he learned the inner workings of a board and all about the open meeting law.
Deso said he spent his leftover free time volunteering for local republican campaigns including St. Albans City Representative Corey Parent’s run for office.
“I think every good public servant knows constituency outreach like the back of their hand,” he said, referring to his experience phone banking for Parent. “And I want to get good at it.”
“I figured joining the planning commission would be a good opportunity to serve the town,” he continued, “and offer a younger person’s point of view in planning where things are going to be and how they’re put there.”
“I’m excited to start working on the town sidewalk plan,” Deso said. “Bring that aspect of what is affordable, what looks best, and what’ll serve my generation best because by the time that this plan is actually executed, we’ll all be adults.”
Deso said he thinks his experience with selling affordable, manufactured housing gives him an advantage regarding zoning regulations. “Every day I deal with different towns like Highgate and Swanton and their bylaws and what I can and cannot do,” he said.
“For the first segment of my one-year term, I’m just going to sit back and learn,” Deso said. “Sam Smith has been a developer and in real estate for probably as long as my grandfather has and Al Voegele seems to be in everything.”
Deso said he already is familiar with the town manager, zoning administrator and Voegele and will look to them for guidance and answers.
“It’d be nice for the town to have somebody meeting with the people who are running it now and then learning from what they’ve learned as they’ve gone through their terms,” he said. “When I’m their age, I’ll be able to do the same thing for somebody my age now.”
Deso said he would like to be involved in town politics for the long haul.