My answers to the Q&A of The Citizen 7/12/2022


Could you summarize your position on abortion rights and Prop 5, the Reproductive Liberty Amendment? If your position has evolved, please explain?

I support the right of a woman to make her own reproductive choices.  I voted for H.57 (Act 47 of 2019) preserving the right to abortion. I also voted for Prop 5 that year.  In February 2022 as Prop 5 came up for a vote, there was more controversy around this constitutional amendment that gave me concern. I felt the amendment was overly broad and voted against Prop 5.  As a result of the criticism I received on this issue from my constituents and the arguments presented as to why Prop 5 is important to guarantee reproductive autonomy without interference from the state, I reevaluated my rationale and came to the conclusion that I should have voted for Prop 5 the second time. Reproduction is a personal choice that cannot or should not be interfered with, trusting that each woman is capable of determining what is best for her.


How far should the state go in addressing climate change? What initiatives do you support that will move the state’s energy grid toward sustainable sources of energy? Do you support the Clean Heat Standard, and if so, how will you ensure that middle-income Vermonters aren’t hit with massive increases in home heating costs and weatherization requirements? Did it concern you that lawmakers seemed unable to explain how the standard would affect Vermonters financially?

Climate change is an existential threat to our lives and to the future of humanity.  It is happening now and will only get worse without effective measures to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We have to do all we can to reduce GHGs, 75% of which are generated primarily from fossil fuel use in transportation and heating in Vermont. In contrast our electricity generation is 65% renewable and is on track to become 75% clean by 2032. We must take measures like weatherization of our homes and using electricity driven heat pumps to reduce our heating dependence on fossil fuels, and we have to help Vermonters heavily dependent on personal transportation to move to more fuel-efficient vehicles, including EVs and hybrids.  Vermonters are already being hit hard by high and volatile fossil fuel prices.  The Clean Heat Standard is a way to help Vermonters transition to cleaner heating technologies with the assistance of fossil fuel suppliers. The CHS bill (H.715) tasked the Public Utility Commission and the Department of Public Service to define the criteria obligating fossil fuel suppliers to help with the transition.  The bill had special provisions to help inoculate low- and moderate-income households from untenable cost increases. The increased costs of fossil fuels due to the CHS, however, would be no where near the cost increases we have seen since February, which are generating huge profits for fossil fuel companies at the expense of the American people and economy.


What are the top three issues facing Charlotte and how would you propose to address them?

Charlotte is a very wonderful community but has very little to offer in affordable housing.  I hope that our village centers will be able to host more affordable housing options while maintaining our rural character. Charlotte residents will have an opportunity to present their vision of what Charlotte should be when the Community Heart and Soul project under consideration by the Charlotte Community Partners kicks off.

A second issue is maintaining a profitable agricultural base which helps maintain our rural character.  I sponsored the agritourism bill (H.89 – Act 31 of 2021) with 49 cosponsors - Democrats, Republicans, Progressives and Independents - which limits the liability of farms engaged in agritourism.  This provides another source of income from participating farms aside from their regular operations. Several farms in Charlotte are beneficiaries, including Philo Ridge and Sweet Roots Earthkeep Farmcommon.  Note: Earthkeep Farmcpmmon was misidentified by me in the printed version as Sweet Roots farm.

A third issue I think is important is making sure that every Charlotte resident has access to high-speed broadband.  The Vermont Community Broadband bill, which was developed by my committee in 2021, has a provision that allows small telecom providers like WCVT to have access to the federal funds for broadband.  I have been working with WCVT and our Selectboard to access funding to complete fiber cable buildout throughout the rest of Charlotte.


Currently, Vermont state lawmakers earn $774 weekly during the legislative session, with no health care benefits, for an annual base pay around $13,932. Do you think this prevents some Vermonters from serving and results in less diversity of thought in the Legislature? Should pay be increased?

Since legislators get paid only from January to about mid-May, it is difficult for younger individuals who must support a family to both serve and maintain a job that pays for living expenses.  A pay increase would help, but the challenge would remain depending on flexibility of employers or the ability of the individual to support themselves.

As for diversity of thought, the 150 members of the House put a lot of thought and study into issues and hear from every conceivable side of every issue through the committee process. Dialog is open and robust, and new ideas are exchanged not only formally but through the many caucuses one can participate in. I am a member of the Climate Solutions Caucus, the Rural Economic Development Working Group, the Working Vermonters Caucus, the Social Equity Caucus, and the Tourism Caucus. All attempt to collaborate across demographic and party lines to propose policies that committees can consider.


The governor signed the Legislature’s new education formula into law, which could mean the Champlain Valley School District will have to face tough choices in coming years, either hefty spending increases, cuts to the education system, or a combination of both. How would you explain to a voter/taxpayer your support or opposition to this measure?

I voted for the bill that bases the new funding formula on pupil weighting.  This system assigns more weight to students who are from low-income families, English language learners, and small rural districts. This is because the cost of educating those students to their potential are higher. The Champlain Valley School District is fortunate to have fewer students who fall into those categories, and so will have a smaller cut of the education pie.  It is important to remember that 1) it is the constitutional responsibility of the state to provide an equitable education to all Vermont students, 2) the amount of education spending is determined at the local level with input from voters in each school district, and 3) it is the obligation of the state to provide the revenues necessary to fund the budgets that were passed by the voters.  Achieving equity is always challenging and requires give and take. Hopefully, it results in a system that is fair as well as beneficial to all students.


Why should voters pick you over your opponent?

I stand on my record.  I have represented my district of Charlotte and part of Hinesburg effectively for 12 years.  I believe I have represented it well and contributed to a better, safer, more prosperous, cleaner, and healthier Vermont. While my work as a member of the Energy and Technology Committee focuses on energy, the environment, and telecommunications, I have not neglected other needs and concerns of our people, especially working families.  The endorsements of Vermont Conservation Voters, Rights And Democracy, and the Vermont State Employees Association are acknowledgements of my work. With the support of the voters of Charlotte and Hinesburg I hope to continue this work for the next two years.