I ask for your support to get back to Montpelier to continue the work I have been doing. The past two sessions, I worked on many issues that impact Vermonters.While I am proud of the bills that I introduced, sponsored or worked on that made their way into law, there is much more work that needs to be done.
These are just some of the many issues that I am passionate about and will continue to work on in Montpelier:
- Spending Tax Dollars More Efficiently and Effectively: Running a nonprofit, I am particularly sensitive to how we spend money and will continue to make sure we are spending our tax dollars as wisely and efficiently as possible. We must assure that the costs are reasonable and the outcomes are effective. We know that health care and corrections are areas where we can find ways to improve the outcomes and spend fewer dollars. I am appalled that Vermont is one of the state’s that spends more on corrections than higher education and that we contract with for profit prison that are motivated by making money for their shareholders.
- Attracting and Keeping Businesses in Vermont: We must work to make Vermont an attractive place for businesses to come or stay that create good jobs with salaries that people can live on. When I travel, people always tell me how lucky I am to live in Vermont. We need to capitalize on the quality of life that we have in Vermont and attract businesses and people here who want this quality of life.
- Making Vermont Affordable: We need to work to make Vermont an affordable place to live, raise a family, and be able to retire here. When increased property taxes are built on budgets that have costs that outpace both inflation and Vermonters’ salary increases, we drive people away. We all want good schools and state government services. We need to be smart about making our state more efficient.
- Enacting Sensible Gun Control including continued work to get the Burlington Charter Changes passed into law.
- Protecting Our Civil Rights and Privacy: We must balance protecting Vermonters’ privacy and civil rights with what is needed for other purposes. We must be careful to not have new technologies chip away at our civil rights without adequate due process and protections.
- Taking Care of our Environment: We must continue to protect the lakes, mountains, and lands that make Vermont the beautiful picturesque state it is, and work to clean up the pollution that already exists. We must promote and develop more public transportation, and support other ways Vermont can do its part in curbing climate change.
- Combatting Poverty: Nearly 20% of our state is living at the poverty level poverty, which is truly unacceptable. Not only can we do better, but when all Vermonters succeed, we all benefit. Affordable housing, good schools, affordable high quality child care, access to transportation, and affordable training programs/higher education, are needed to help people secure good jobs to move out of poverty.
Experience Working for a Better Vermont for All Vermonters
- Knowledgeable: I have served on the House Education, Judiciary and Judicial Retention Committees.
- Effective: Several bills I was the lead sponsor on have become enacted into law including: a bill banning life without parole sentences for juveniles in Vermont; a bill allowing minors age 16 -18 to file relief from abuse orders without parental permission; and a bill making revenge pornography a crime in Vermont.
- Recognized for my work: I was named a national Henry Toll Fellow and a Robert Thompson Eastern Leadership Fellow by the Council of State Governments. I have been endorsed by many groups including: AFT Vermont, AFL-CIO, Vermont NEA, Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund, Patient Choices Vermont, Sierra Club of Vermont, Vermont Conservation Voters and Vermont State Employees Association.
- Collaborative: I am dedicated to working across the aisles with Republicans, Progressives, Independents and Democrats alike to find common ground and consensus. We are there to improve life for Vermonters, not to promote partisanship. I am also a member of the National Institute of Civil Discourse, Next Generation.
- Approach: I approach being a state representative as an honor and responsibility. I do my research and think it is of paramount importance to look at the data and evidence to form my opinions and shape the work I do. Of course taking some of the stances I do are often not popular, but it’s important to me to do what is right and best for Vermont.
Experienced employer and business leader:
I care about making it easy for businesses, including the state’s large nonprofit sector, to succeed and help contribute to Vermont’s economy. I have been the Executive Director since 1997 of Lund, a nonprofit organization that provides statewide services to children and families. I have over 35 years of experience running and working in nonprofit agencies.
Experienced advocate for families and children:
I have spent my entire career with organizations that strengthen and support children, youth, and families. Having worked outside the home since my children were born, I know first-hand the difficulties working parents face in raising a family in Burlington— especially finding affordable, quality child care. I am committed to working for results that will help all Vermonters, including those that have no voice or lobby. I am asking for your support to help me go back to Montpelier and continue this work.
First Biennium Work:
Having served on the House Education Committee, I was particularly pleased that we passed the following legislation:
Universal Pre-Kindergarten for Vermont children: Currently many Vermont children do not have access to a quality pre-Kindergarten program. We know that Pre-K makes good economic sense and not only helps children be ready to learn in Kindergarten, but also studies have shown that this critical early brain development provides a lifetime of benefits including higher earnings, lower rates of incarceration and much more. Every Vermont child deserves to be able to attend a quality pre-K program.
Free school meals for children that had only been able to get reduced cost meals: So many children in Vermont are hungry! It’s unconscionable, Children cannot learn when they are hungry and so many families didn’t have the money to pay for the reduced school lunches. We passed a bill that now provides these lunches to families that were only eligible for reduced lunches to receive them for free. Children in Vermont should not be hungry. This is a small start to the efforts to end hunger in our state and help children be successful.
Dual enrollment: Now Vermont public high school students can take up to two college classes for free. It’s important especially for students who might not have considered higher education.
I was disappointed that we were not able to pass legislation to address the following issues.
School reform: I was involved in working to find a way to reform Vermont’s archaic and unsustainable educational system.
I was shocked to learn that we have 277 school districts, 305 schools and 15 tech centers. And yet, Vermont’s student population is declining from the highest in 1997 when we had 106,341 to 2013 when we had 88,000 students statewide. We are paying over< 1.4 billion dollars on education in our state for 88,000 students.
Declining enrollment and small districts has put substantial upward pressure on Vermont’s per pupil expenditures, driving up property taxes and making Vermont less affordable. I am convinced that we can spend our educational dollars more wisely. Vermont has the smallest average district size in all 50 states. It’s an expensive top heavy system that spends way too much on overhead and administration. I am very concerned about how we are spending the money, the outcomes, and the lack of oversight that exists for school spending. I am eager to return to Montpelier and help work to make sure we are spending money carefully and wisely. How much is going to overhead? Supervisory Unions? We cannot keep asking Vermonters to pay more each year at the rates our taxes have been going up.We must get a handle on spending and making sure every Vermont child is successful educationally. Neither are happening now and its wrong!
I am eager to go back to work on doing better for Vermont’s children as this expensive system isn’t giving all children in Vermont the education they need to be successful, nor is it doing right by taxpayers. It will only get worse unless something changes.
I am Proud to have Voted for…
- Allowing for death with dignity through the end of the life bill
- Banning the use of cell phones while driving
- Expanding solar net metering as an alternative to fossil fuels
- Labeling food/GMO I bill, since so many Vermonters want to know what is in their food
- Protecting Vermont shore lands through expanded environmental measures
- Raising Vermont’s minimum wage
I care about our community and want to make a difference. We live in a very special place. Both our city of Burlington and our state are very special. We are lucky to have the natural beauty we have here and the wonderful institutions and culture that makes Vermont so special. We need to foster great relationships with Champlain College and University of Vermont which have so much to offer and are a part of what makes Burlington so great. We have a rich nonprofit community that provides an array of services that enhance Vermont- from the environment, arts, health care, housing, to human services. We have a rich nonprofit community that provides an array of services that enhance Vermont- from the environment, arts, to human services. We have an incredible research, teaching and patient care hospital in Fletcher Allen that is a wonderful asset to our community. We have great performing and visual arts. All of this makes our quality of life great. I have been a part of working to support some of these causes.