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Vermont House Candidates Questionnaire

There is a lot of change in the legislative space, and even the most knowledgeable citizens may not know who will be representing you in Montpelier next year for two important reasons. First, the Vermont Legislature experiences its own unprecedented “great resignation” from the Vermont legislature and higher elected offices, the Vermont State House will have at least a third of its seats filled with newly elected officials come January. Second, also coinciding with this seachange is reapportionment (a.k.a. redistricting), which takes place every 10 years after the census. Due to this, you might be in a new district, and the familiar faces you know and trust might not be who you’ll vote for in the rapidly approaching August 9th primary or the November 8th election. 

About the survey: LCC’s advocacy team reached out to candidates for seats within Chittenden County with an online questionnaire. Candidates who did not complete the questionnaire are listed here for the purposes of showing all participants in the contests. Their responses are shared here with minimal editing only in instances where it was necessary for clarity. This page will be updated as some candidates participate late and to include material such as other surveys and questionnaires, forums, and other outside resources.

You may also be interested in the VTDigger Candidate Questionnaires. 

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please email [email protected] 

House Candidates

CHI 2

Candidate Biography 

I am a high school teacher of 16 years, a school board member in CVSD, and I have been honored to represent Williston residents in Montpelier these past two years. I’ve focused on supporting families, working Vermonters and our communities as we recover from the pandemic. I led efforts to ensure Vermont’s schools continue offering universal free school meals to all children.     Before coming to Vermont, I spent five years working for United States Senator Mark Dayton as a legislative aide, tracking and developing a wide array of legislation, including education and environmental policy. When Senator Dayton announced his retirement, I left Washington, D.C. to pursue my master’s degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.     Ted and I chose to make Williston our family home because we value the quality of life here and the strong sense of community.   While it has been challenging at times to be raising a family, teaching and serving in the Legislature, I believe it’s important that we have more voices from working families like mine in Montpelier. 

Why are you running?

One of the most pronounced lessons I’ve learned as a teacher is the cumulative effect of inequitable opportunities and experiences on young people and their families. I’m passionate about public education as an important means to create a more just and equitable society.  I am committed to using my experience and the relationships I have developed in the legislature to be a tireless advocate for our most vulnerable students and to strengthen the sometimes overlooked “bookends” of our educational system: early childhood and post-secondary opportunities.  

Why Should Business Owners Support You? 

One of my biggest priorities in serving is to help increase access to post-secondary education and training, which directly impacts our workforce and economic health as a state. As a teacher of mostly high school seniors, I know that far too many young adults leave our K-12 system without a concrete plan to gain a degree or credential. I strongly believe we can do far more to better connect our K-12 system, post-secondary instutions/programs and employers. I am deeply committed to this work and excited to work with the business community on this challenging work.  

Is Vermont Business Friendly?

Somewhat – as I said before, I think we can do better to connect our K-12 schools, post-secondary instutions/programs and employers. We need to invest more in public higher education and tie those investments to specific outcomes, such as internships and employment. Vermont has a vibrant community of small businesses and a few larger businesses but in order to grow, we must do not do more to address the compounding issues of childcare, affordable housing and workforce development. These are not “business issues” – they are the issues that impact all of us in our communities.   

What could the Legislature do to support the creation of more well-paying jobs in Vermont?

I think we can do better to connect our K-12 schools, post-secondary instutions/programs and employers. We need to invest more in public higher education and tie those investments to specific outcomes, such as internships and employment. Vermont has a vibrant community of small businesses and a few larger businesses but in order to grow, we must do not do more to address the compounding issues of childcare, affordable housing and workforce development. These are not “business issues” – they are the issues that impact all of us in our communities. 

How does regulation affect the availability and affordability of housing in Vermont? What should be done to ensure more availability and affordability at a legislative and regulatory level?

We need to build housing, that is abundantly clear.  We should focus on dense development and building in our downtowns and growth centers and be sure that regulations do not make that overly difficult.  It is important to evaluate development thoughtfully but we cannot let NIMBY-ism and excessive regulatory processes make development impossible.  

Do you think we should be marketing our state to outsiders for the purposes of building a brand people relate to as the right place to visit, invest, or live?

Yes, we should market our state and all the great things Vermont has to offer but our best marketing will be word of mouth by thriving families and businesses! 

Would you support Vermont enacting the State and Local Tax (SALT) workaround that 24 other states have enacted? (Learn more here). Please explain your reasoning. 

Likely but I need to understand the issue more

Candidate Biography 

Angela Arsenault is a journalist with over 20 years of professional experience in print, online, and podcast reporting. Twice-elected to the Champlain Valley School District Board of Directors, she has served as Chair since 2021. Angela volunteers with the Williston Community Justice Center, the Education Justice Coalition of Vermont, the Williston Joy Brigade, and the Williston-Richmond Rotary Club. 

Why are you running?

I’m running because I believe that I can effect positive, human-centered change through inclusive representation.

Why Should Business Owners Support You? 

I would appreciate the support of business owners because I bring to the legislature a human-centered approach to policy-building. And businesses, like families and communities, are made up of and depend upon people. When people are housed, healthy, cared for, and feeling connected, businesses fare better. Both the commercial entity and the employer side of an organization benefit from happier humans. 

Is Vermont Business Friendly?

I think the answer to this question is more complex than a simple “yes” or “no.” Growing up in Vermont, I got the impression from the adults around me that our state could be a challenging place to own and operate a business (my Dad worked in furniture manufacturing for over 40 years). As an adult, I’ve witnessed the relative ease with which people can come together and projects can take flight, due in part to Vermont’s close-knit and supportive communities.     Generally speaking, I see a tension between a well-founded desire to maintain the charm and character of Vermont – as well as a necessary focus on environmental concerns – and the reality that Vermont needs to grow in order to thrive. Growth can come in many forms, but must include job opportunities, encouraging entrepreneurial endeavors, and healthy risk-taking.     I think the answer also depends on which industry you’re asking about. The challenges and opportunities differ whether you’re in retail, manufacturing, agriculture, or other sectors.     If elected, I will seek to better understand two important pieces to this puzzle: 1) state government’s implicit and explicit support for businesses and business owners, and 2) Vermonters’ attitudes and expectations around what it means to be “business-friendly” and if our actions align with those expectations.    

What could the Legislature do to support the creation of more well-paying jobs in Vermont?

To answer this question with integrity I would want to speak with current business owners to find out what’s preventing them from offering well-paying jobs now. I would also speak with employers who are able to provide a real living wage to their employees and ask them what’s working for them. I know that there would be – and should be – a legislative component to the creation of well-paying jobs, but again this is a complex issue that requires an equally complex and nuanced response.    I’d also be keen to speak with folks from higher education and career and technical education to find out where they see opportunities for well-paid employees and in which sectors Vermont might consider targeted and supported growth. Similarly, I would invite input from economists with a proven track record for predicting economic and workforce trends to help ensure that any legislative action would be forward-thinking.     Finally, I would like to see an examination of current Vermont wages and salaries to ascertain if employers are appropriately valuing employees. A family member of mine works for a Vermont college and, with ample experience and a master’s degree from a different Vermont institution, this family member is being paid less than $50,000 a year. To me, that says that her Vermont education and professional experience is not being properly valued.  

How does regulation affect the availability and affordability of housing in Vermont? What should be done to ensure more availability and affordability at a legislative and regulatory level?

Regulation is no doubt at least partly responsible for the lack of affordable housing in Vermont. However, I believe there are other factors at play which might be more intangible and harder to pin down (NIMBYism being one of them). I’m not yet familiar enough with housing regulations to say with any level of authority how and why current regulations need to change. I know that in my town of Williston there is effort being made through the potential adoption of form-based code to create a stronger connection between commercial development and residential development. I appreciate that effort and a willingness to try something new.     I admit I don’t know the current requirements for the inclusion of affordable units in new developments. That’s an important piece. With our disappearing middle, even dual-income families are struggling to find housing in Vermont. We need to update our notion of affordable housing as something that only applies to low-income Vermonters. I would argue that housing has become unaffordable for the majority of Vermonters. Legislation to encourage the development of accessory dwelling units would be helpful, as would an examination of the benefits of increasing the non-homestead tax rate, with the provision that tax monies collected be invested in the creation of additional housing stock.   

Do you think we should be marketing our state to outsiders for the purposes of building a brand people relate to as the right place to visit, invest, or live?

My unequivocal answer to this question is: yes. As someone who respects the power of words, I will dedicate the bulk of my response to the unfortunate use of the term “outsiders.” This word presumably refers to people who were not born in Vermont or haven’t been here for very long. Keep in mind, without people moving into the state, Vermont would be in an even more dire demographic circumstance than the one in which we find ourselves now.    This is the dark side of Vermont exceptionalism. Our state is a beautiful, healthy place to live, visit, work, and raise a family. And most of us, whether born here or not, are outsiders by some definition – descended from European settlers who likely saw in the Green Mountain State all the good that we see today. Until we as a state can truly encourage and embrace the presence of those who came here from all over the world, we are in danger of violating the ideals that we so proudly speak of when answering the question, why do you live here?    So, yes, I believe we should market Vermont as a wonderful place to live and visit and then we need to make it so.  

Would you support Vermont enacting the State and Local Tax (SALT) workaround that 24 other states have enacted? (Learn more here). Please explain your reasoning. 

Based on my limited knowledge of this issue, I would say yes. That answer is strongly influenced by the list of co-signers to the letter sent to legislators late last session. However, what I have not figured out from my limited research on this topic is the potential downside to enacting this workaround. I wouldn’t be comfortable offering a definitive answer until I’ve researched the issue a bit more. 

CHI 4

Candidate Biography 

I am a fiscally conservative uniter. I will be working hard for the voters of my community to make sure their interests are served. I plan to save affordability, anyway I can. 

Why are you running?

Because the current folks in the legislature have lost touch with their community. I plan to keep the community close 

Why Should Business Owners Support You? 

I plan to make this state friendly to business again. Which is going to require a lot of deregulation. – And creative problem solving.

Is Vermont Business Friendly?

NO! It costs .95 cents to manufacture $1 worth of manufactured goods in VT. We will need to be offering tax incentives to bring good paying jobs to VT. 

What could the Legislature do to support the creation of more well-paying jobs in Vermont?

Tax Incentives, and alot of deregulation.

How does regulation affect the availability and affordability of housing in Vermont? What should be done to ensure more availability and affordability at a legislative and regulatory level?

This is a consideration I am mulling over with legislative colleagues. Possibly add fees to people who are purchasing homes they do not intend to live in full time.   Regulate short term rentals- 

Do you think we should be marketing our state to outsiders for the purposes of building a brand people relate to as the right place to visit, invest, or live?

I don’t really think we need to do that at all.- we have a housing shortage to a scary extent. We can re-examine when we move large amounts of good paying jobs to the state.

Would you support Vermont enacting the State and Local Tax (SALT) workaround that 24 other states have enacted? (Learn more here). Please explain your reasoning. 

Absolutely! We really need to invest what we have to spend in VT. And we need to be taking a lot less from taxpayers/residents in general.

CHI 9

Candidate Biography 

I’ve always felt fortunate to have spent my life here in Vermont. I grew up in Charlotte, then moved to South Burlington in 2005 and have called it home ever since. I learned the importance of connecting with neighbors from door knocking with my dad, Gerry Krasnow, when he ran for Vermont legislature in 1994. His commitment to public service is what inspired me to follow in his footsteps and serve in Montpelier. I love my South Burlington community just as my dad loved his community in Charlotte, and I can’t wait to be able to give back in the same way.   While holding elected office will be new for me, working in the statehouse won’t. I worked as an assistant in the Senate for four years before moving to the Lieutenant Governor’s office for three more. It was incredibly helpful to see the legislative process. I’m excited to be able to put that experience to use!  More importantly, I’m excited to bring South Burlington to the statehouse. While the leadership trainings and fellowships that I’ve been a part of have been important to hone my professional political skills, nothing has taught me more about the everyday work of being there for neighbors like volunteering for the food shelf, serving on the South Burlington Housing Trust committee, being a member of the South Burlington rotary, and serving on the South Burlington Library ASPIRE committee. These hometown connections are not showy, but it’s where the work starts and where it ends. This job requires working with and listening to people who have very different points of view. I’m excited to be the one to bring these varied perspectives of my South Burlington neighbors to Montpelier.   

Why are you running?

I’m running to bring the voices, ideas, and concerns of our district to Montpelier. I am continually inspired by the people I volunteer with and the community members I talk to. We live in a special community, where neighbors do help neighbors, and where many of us fight to ensure everyone feels welcome and safe. I want to do my part by representing these values in Montpelier.  I moved to South Burlington in 2005 as a renter. I know first hand about the difficulties of affordable housing in our city. When I talk with my neighbors here, the most common economic issue that I hear is that South Burlington’s property tax burden is too high. I am committed to finding solutions that reduce the tax burden on our elderly, support our small businesses, and encourage growth while protecting the social services and safety net policies that are vital to our community’s success.   It’s going to take many different perspectives and ideas to figure out how we can grow without leaving neighbors behind. My generation is uniquely aware of the value of inclusivity and diversity. I know it will take collaboration and creativity to address and reverse the effects of climate change, and to do so in a way that provides a future for our state through green energy and economic incentives for our business communities.   I am running to find the gaps in the systems for the people who have been disenfranchised and find state and community based solutions to bridge those gaps. Through my volunteer work at the food shelf, I have seen first-hand the discrepancies in race and socioeconomic status between those who walk through the doors and those shopping down the street. I have heard the cries of people experiencing houselessness while serving on the Housing Trust Committee. And I have connected with the youth in our community to re-engage them in a process they feel has ignored them as they grapple with student debt, climate change, and food and housing insecurities.   Everyone I talk to wants their voice included in the process and I will work hard to make more space and invite you in. I am committed to transparency in the legislative process and being accessible to all of my constituents. I  will strive to have one foot in the state house and one foot in our community. 

Why Should Business Owners Support You? 

I have a deep commitment to our community and I want to see it thrive. Businesses are a vital part of a thriving community as they provide goods and services as well as jobs for our residents.    Having worked in many local small businesses and a consumer, I’ve experienced first-hand many of the challenges owners face from shortages of staff to inventory concerns to the challenges of navigating regulatory systems.    I am committed to talking to local business owners to understand what support they need and to listen to their ideas for making South Burlington a good place to have a business.     I am also committed to having continued dialogue with our South Burlington Business Association and the LCC to be an allie on the legislative policy level and participate in those discussions.   

Is Vermont Business Friendly?

I think this depends on the type of business, the location, and the resources that are provided to businesses. As I mentioned above, I will work to help businesses thrive in South Burlington. To do that I am committed to working with business owners to learn what is working well and what supports they need.     I believe that small, local businesses are a huge asset to a community and to our state and I am particularly interested in ensuring those wanting to start a business have the support they need. I have several friends who are newer to Vermont and have started businesses. I am inspired by their tenacity, vision and dedication, but I do not think we do enough to support small businesses and particularly those owned by minorities.  

What could the Legislature do to support the creation of more well-paying jobs in Vermont?

I have heard from some small business owners of the grueling and time consuming process of applications and regulations. I think there are likely areas where processes could be streamlined to save both the state and the business owner time and energy. Micro grants to help small businesses get going will create jobs and opportunity locally.    It seems like a lot of attention is paid to our largest employers. I would like to ensure value is placed on smaller employers that have an opportunity to employ and provide needed services in local communities. In Chittenden County there are some great examples of community workspaces, art cooperatives, and maker spaces that help small businesses with access to tools and support they need to get started. I am excited to participate in this type of creative thinking and collaborative approach to building business capacity in my town and region.    I do not believe businesses should have to spend so much time and money trying to navigate health care for their employees. I also think a Paid Family Leave program would help employers support their employees.   

How does regulation affect the availability and affordability of housing in Vermont? What should be done to ensure more availability and affordability at a legislative and regulatory level?

I currently serve on South Burlington’s Affordable Housing Trust Committee and regularly attend our Development Review Board meetings as well.     Regulation has played an important role in protecting the rural landscape that draws many to our state. There are also examples where it adds phenomenal expense and draws out a process, causing additional expenses.    We need more housing and particularly more housing that is affordable to young, new and working individuals and families. Much of what is deemed ‘affordable housing’ is still far out of reach for too many. Access to affordable housing impacts every other sector. Without housing businesses will not be able to attract employees. Lack of affordable housing also forces people to live far away from where they work, drive more, and have a negative impact on the climate crisis.     As housing is developed, I would want to see it planned in conjunction with transportation opportunities, business opportunities, mental health and other social supports, and in a way that ensures those units that are built to be affordable will remain that way in perpetuity.  

Do you think we should be marketing our state to outsiders for the purposes of building a brand people relate to as the right place to visit, invest, or live?

Absolutely! Tourism has been our #1 industry for a long time and there are many ways we can leverage Vermont’s beauty, its proximity to millions of people on the East Coast, and the unique products and services we offer. When a tourist comes to ski or bike in Vermont, they are spending money at lots of small local businesses and have a huge impact on keeping our local economies strong.  

Would you support Vermont enacting the State and Local Tax (SALT) workaround that 24 other states have enacted? (Learn more here). Please explain your reasoning. 

This is an area I would want to learn more about and I would especially want to talk to local business owners to better understand what they think about this. I would be interested in hearing more about this from your organization.   

CHI 13

Candidate Biography 

I served as ED of Vermont Works for Women (1998-2015) and then as founder of Change The Story VT (2015-2020). I was elected to the House of Representatives in 2020 and serve on the General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee. For a fuller bio see https://tiffbluemle.com/meet-tiff/. 

Why are you running?

The pandemic highlighted the importance of issues I have worked on for years; running for office offered a new opportunity to advance them. 

Why Should Business Owners Support You? 

I have spent years forging working partnerships with employers throughout the state – to design and deliver workforce training, to expose young people to a broad range of fields and career choices, to assist employers in recruiting and retaining employees, and in helping businesses assess and address issues related to workplace culture and equity.  I have founded coalitions across sectors to advance workforce development and in 2007 served on the Next Generation Commission, which recommended new and enduring investments in training through the Workforce and Education Training Fund and VSAC’s non-degree grant program as well as support for the Vermont State College system and the University of Vermont. In 2008, my work was recognized by the LCRCC. I connect the dots between emergent needs and the people who are best positioned or possess the skills to address them and build bridges across organizations and sectors. 

Is Vermont Business Friendly?

Yes and No. There are employers across the state who have told me that Vermont is a terrific place to do business – because of its size and the accessibility to state decision makers, its physical beauty and lifestyle, which is a competitive asset in recruiting out of state talent, and because they believe that the state has pursued a holistic approach to economic development policy that reflects a commitment to protecting our natural resources, to developing local talent, and being willing to adjust policy to meet changes in the market. Many business owners will credit the state for its immediate and sustained support of employers who were hit hard by the pandemic and of the employees they were able to keep on payroll. There are others who say they are frustrated by the ways in which Act 250 constrains or prolongs development, that they cannot find workers to fill open positions or to expand their operations, or that our slow and uneven buildout of broadband has limited economic growth in rural parts of the state. From my perspective, everybody’s right – and our work as a legislature is to recognize these competing realities through the laws we pass. 

What could the Legislature do to support the creation of more well-paying jobs in Vermont?

The single-most important strategy is to truly align workforce development efforts across state departments and programs. We form task forces and committees to identify workforce development priorities, but in the 25 years I have been involved in state workforce policy I have not seen the kind of alignment we say we desire. Alignment is difficult because federal funding for training comes from a variety of sources with different aims; because investments in training are inconsistent and budgeted annually; and because of the tension that always exists between the shiny new idea and the solid, but not-so-shiny, investment.     While we must always work to attract out of state talent and businesses, we must work hardest at developing the talent that is here, right now. We must lean into the political challenge of re-structuring the funding for career and technical education. We must continue to invest in career exposure; years of mentoring young women has demonstrated to me the truth of the adage “you can’t be what you can’t see.” We must prioritize a strategy for developing the talent that is underrepresented in so many fields that pay well – particularly to women, to BIPOC Vermonters.   

How does regulation affect the availability and affordability of housing in Vermont? What should be done to ensure more availability and affordability at a legislative and regulatory level?

This year, the legislature appropriated $92 million to increase affordable housing stock, including a program that subsidizes project development. Money isn’t all that’s required to boost the supply of housing, however; changes in zoning and regulations related to development must be part of the solution and S.226, which was recently signed by the Governor, marked a step forward in this direction by reforming zoning and tax credits to encourage denser development in town centers and creates a pilot project to support integrated municipal planning. This summer, I will be working with housing advocates and municipal planners to better understand what additional changes in regulation may be needed, provided that they do not undermine our parallel interest in protecting the environment.   

Do you think we should be marketing our state to outsiders for the purposes of building a brand people relate to as the right place to visit, invest, or live?

To my mind, Vermont already has a “brand identity” – as a beautiful state whose products reflect hard work and skilled craftsmanship, whose size makes it possible for big ideas to take root and grow, and whose policies reflect a respect for the natural environment, balancing the responsibilities of both work and family, and community participation. In-migration is steady and projected to increase. In-migration in a state that has the second-oldest population in the country is a good thing and we should encourage it through marketing and branding – though not, I would suggest, through initiatives like the remote worker incentive program.     I think that we have an inherently attractive product in the people and assets of this “brave little state” – but our ability to nurture a vital economy hinges upon our ability to educate a skilled workforce. We must do more to encourage and support entrepreneurs – and not just those who live out of state or are most likely to attract venture capital. Many women and BIPOC entrepreneurs who are already based in Vermont are poised for growth but lack the capital and the encouragement they need to take the next step.   

Would you support Vermont enacting the State and Local Tax (SALT) workaround that 24 other states have enacted? (Learn more here). Please explain your reasoning. 

I believe that in the next biennium the House Ways and Means Committee will take up recommendations of the most recent Tax Structure Commission and other tax proposals that were raised in the last session but weren’t, for a variety of reasons, successful. I have learned that tax legislation is like the game of Jenga, where a single change can trigger a number of other changes. While I am open to learning more about the SALT workaround, I  would look to the Joint Fiscal Office and to the money committees in the General Assembly to consider its impact.   

CHI 14

Candidate Biography 

I am a social worker with extensive experience leading and managing both large and small nonprofit organizations.  I have served on several VT boards and am running for a 6th term. 

Why are you running?

To make Vermont a place that welcomes all, an affordable, safe, healthy place to live, raise a family, work, and retire. 

Why Should Business Owners Support You? 

I have over 30 years’ experience as an executive director at three different statewide nonprofit organizations. I bring my firsthand experience of what it’s like to run a business and be an employer.  I’ve experienced the challenges of finding qualified staff, paying increased costs, not only due to inflation and supply issues, but also as a result of laws we pass in Montpelier.  I understand that actions we take as a state have an impact on how businesses do their work.   

Is Vermont Business Friendly?

Yes in the following ways:  People want to live in Vermont and appreciate the quality of life and beauty Vermont offers.  No in that we have an affordable housing crisis, a lack of quality, affordable childcare options, a higher cost of living than many places in the country and lower wages that many places in the country.   Public transportation is limited and we have a shortage of qualified employees for many jobs.   We need to address the housing and child care shortages, as well as the create incentives for people to move to (or stay in Vermont), as well as support for people working to start/grow/move their business to Vermont. 

What could the Legislature do to support the creation of more well-paying jobs in Vermont?

Raise the minimum [w]age.  Continue public investment in Vermont’s infrastructure- building/repairing roads, bridges, weatherization projects, etc.

How does regulation affect the availability and affordability of housing in Vermont? What should be done to ensure more availability and affordability at a legislative and regulatory level?

We know that Act 250 can mean duplicate efforts that result in added cost and time to build housing or other construction.   Addressing zoning issues is a top priority.     Encourage more Accessory Dwelling Units.   Examine if parking requirements for construction can be changed in order to free up more space for housing and encourage other means of transportation.

Do you think we should be marketing our state to outsiders for the purposes of building a brand people relate to as the right place to visit, invest, or live?

Absolutely, Vermont does not spend as much on marketing as other states and the Vermont brand is already recognized and should be built on.   We also know that many people will stay in the area they went to college in, if they can. So in addition to marketing to people to visit, invest or live here, we need to help support efforts to attract students.

Would you support Vermont enacting the State and Local Tax (SALT) workaround that 24 other states have enacted? (Learn more here). Please explain your reasoning. 

Yes. I believe that the SALT initiatives deserve more attention and analysis to explore what the impact would be implementing such a law. The details and specifics would matter a great deal and I am intrigued to learn more from the states that have enacted it.

CHI 18

Candidate Biography Vermont State Representative 2017- present  House Ways and Means Committee 2021-2022  Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules 2021-present  House Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife Committee 2011-2020   Vermont Lake Champlain Citizens Advisory Council 2017- present   National Council of State Legislators Vermont Lead 2021- present  University of Vermont Legislative Trustee 2019- present  Vermont Agricultural College Board, chair since 2020   UVM Office of Engagement Advisory Council 2020- present           

Why are you running?

I believe in Vermont. I will continue to listen to Vermonters’ priorities and fight for solutions that work.

Why Should Business Owners Support You? 

I listen. I work hard. I believe in Vermont and Vermonters.

Is Vermont Business Friendly?

I am reminded of Charles Dickens and his novel, The Tale of Two Cities. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….” We should listen to businesses. We should speak positively about what is right and what is working. We should work toward solutions for what needs to be improved.

What could the Legislature do to support the creation of more well-paying jobs in Vermont?

We should help potential employees improve skills in their areas of interest and match what they learn with what employers need.

How does regulation affect the availability and affordability of housing in Vermont? What should be done to ensure more availability and affordability at a legislative and regulatory level?

We should work to eliminate duplicative regulations. We should encourage development in city, town and village centers and preserve open spaces, our working landscape, our forests and our wildlife corridors.

Do you think we should be marketing our state to outsiders for the purposes of building a brand people relate to as the right place to visit, invest, or live?

Yes. The Vermont brand is strong and stands quality, a clean environment, and a wonderful place to live, work, visit and invest.

Would you support Vermont enacting the State and Local Tax (SALT) workaround that 24 other states have enacted? (Learn more here). Please explain your reasoning. 

Yes, I would.

 

Candidate Biography 

Been around for a while.  Have a long history of working for Government and have run my own business on occasion.  Am open to business assistance but also do not believe that the law of survival of the fittest does not apply in the business world.  I am not in favor of massive corporate welfare and expect every citizen to pull their own weight.

Why are you running?

I think I bring broad experience and a diverse perspective on business and taxation, as well as governments role in consumer protection and protecting rights.

Why Should Business Owners Support You? 

Because I am willing to listen and act upon reasonable requests for consideration from all sides.   I don’t feel taxes are the solution to every illness nor that exemption is either.  

Is Vermont Business Friendly?

Vermont is business responsible.  When we need to step up, as we did several times and ways during the worst of the pandemic, we did.  In all aspects of life I believe a HAND UP vrs OUT is the way.

What could the Legislature do to support the creation of more well-paying jobs in Vermont?

More educational support and diverse workforce enabling legislation.  However job creation is a supply and demand issue and if your business isn’t competitive-should we prop it up?  We need a more tolerant population in many ways.  it opens doors.

How does regulation affect the availability and affordability of housing in Vermont? What should be done to ensure more availability and affordability at a legislative and regulatory level?

I see this as the difference between AFFORDABLE HOUSE and housing that IS AFFORDABLE…  left to their own, developers will engage in a trickle down approach to housing.  Build nicer more profitable units, let folks migrate up and push the homeless or disadvantaged in at the bottom.  Corporations once had to comply with a code in the way they did business.  That seems to have been lost and now government must force an expectation. 

Do you think we should be marketing our state to outsiders for the purposes of building a brand people relate to as the right place to visit, invest, or live?

Yes. WE NEED PEOPLE.  Our biggest deficit is our demographic distribution being way too old.   The secret of our future in Vermont is not snowfall or water quality.  It is attraction and RETENTION of young active minds.

Would you support Vermont enacting the State and Local Tax (SALT) workaround that 24 other states have enacted? (Learn more here). Please explain your reasoning. 

Maybe…… your link takes you to a rather uninformative explanation. I am not a person who thinks taxes are universally bad or evil.  They/it is why we have bridges and roads and electric, etc.   This is an interesting area to explore, but no jumping off of the bridge.

CHI 21

Candidate Biography 

Daisy Berbeco is a former senior policy advisor for the State of Vermont and has served on various state, tribal and national advisory boards. She has worked on mental health and substance use initiatives in all 50 states and has a MA in Science, Society and Development from the University of Sussex. She is the Director of the Fourth of July for the Chamber of Commerce in her hometown.

Why are you running?

I’m running for State Representative because we need innovative, energetic leadership in the State House to support a vibrant Winooski for all who live here. 

Why Should Business Owners Support You? 

I was born and raised in my parent’s grocery store, which is in a small town off the road system in Alaska. My dad boats or flies, then drives hundreds of miles to stock the store and has done so for 50 years now. I have a broad understanding of the many social, fiscal, regulatory, and logistical challenges of operating a small business. I also understand not being able to find, keep or afford to hire employees, or buy your own health insurance.   These challenges are very real, they hit some Vermonters much harder than others and when you are a business owner you don’t leave the stress of these challenges behind at 5:00. They permeate your family.   Business owners or aspiring business owners who want an advocate need a representative who will comprehend these struggles, and celebrate the successes- more deeply than just an average customer might.  

Is Vermont Business Friendly?

No. I think business-friendly would mean it is easier to start a new business and succeed. We could try to create more small business loans for example, which could also support members of under represented communities. I would like to see more innovative partnerships to empower the workforce and drive new businesses in our state – especially around health and wellness. But we need to find methods of incentivizing that creativity because start up can be costly – and ultimately those partnerships and their outcomes are a win-win for us all.

What could the Legislature do to support the creation of more well-paying jobs in Vermont?

I look forward to being part of a solution to this complex issue. 

How does regulation affect the availability and affordability of housing in Vermont? What should be done to ensure more availability and affordability at a legislative and regulatory level?

There are many layers of partners and people with lived experience who will be part of creating a holistic solution to the lack of availability and affordability. I look forward to being part of that. Housing is health care, and we need to start here if we want to lead the nation in health care reform so first we need to look at the data, and the outcomes or lack of them.

Do you think we should be marketing our state to outsiders for the purposes of building a brand people relate to as the right place to visit, invest, or live?

No, I don’t. I think our state speaks for herself quite well.

Would you support Vermont enacting the State and Local Tax (SALT) workaround that 24 other states have enacted? (Learn more here). Please explain your reasoning. 

I would have to learn more to clearly say whether I would support it or not.

CHI 22

Candidate Biography 

I grew up in Lamoille and Franklin counties.  I am a veteran (Army, honorable discharge), college graduate (PHCC Florida, Associate in Arts with Honors), father (two daughters), and have been a successful business entrepreneur.  I’ve lived in Chittenden County since about 2000.  Although I’ve never been involved with politics in the past, I’m passionate about preserving the freedoms and privileges our forefathers worked so hard to grant us.

Why are you running?

I don’t believe the agenda that our current legislators are pursuing is the real agenda of the people of this state. We need people who are willing to stop, look, and listen. Before implementing any more new, radical programs, we should be taking a closer look at existing programs that have failed.  High on my list of concerns is the fact that Vermont is one of the most heavily taxed states. These broken programs place an undue burden on the people.

Why Should Business Owners Support You? 

For starters, I have been a business owner myself.  I don’t pretend to know all the ins-and-outs of every industry, but I do know a little about what it takes.  It’s not always easy.  One disturbing trend I see taking shape is the fact that many of our political leaders are conning people into believing that taxing and regulating our businesses at higher and higher rates is going to solve all of society’s problems.  The American Dream was not founded on government ownership and control of free enterprise: it was founded on the fact that anyone has the potential to use their resources wisely and achieve unlimited success.

Is Vermont Business Friendly?

I believe there have been some successes in negotiating with large companies and attract them to the state.  We have a great workforce and beautiful place to operate.  The same can-not be said for small business.  We need to reject any idea that places more regulation, taxes or paperwork burden on the small business owner.  Some of the programs that have been put into place over the past decade need to be re-examined.

What could the Legislature do to support the creation of more well-paying jobs in Vermont?

It is not the place of the government to control every aspect of the business world.  They do that in places like Venezuela, Cuba and Russia.  Rather, the job of the state should be to maintain a fair and even playing field so that everyone has an opportunity, and the rights of individuals are not trampled on.  Reducing unnecessary regulations would be a good start.  Reducing the tax burden on both individual workers and businesses alike would yield an immediate increase in net income.

 

How does regulation affect the availability and affordability of housing in Vermont? What should be done to ensure more availability and affordability at a legislative and regulatory level?

This is an important and complex issue.  The cost of building new modern housing combined with supply and demand in any geographic area play the biggest role.  One of the things we have seen over the past 30 years is a shifting of populations toward the bigger towns and cities.  Environmental regulation and property taxes also play a role: if you raise property taxes on the landlords, you will be raising rents on the people they provide housing for.  Again, I do not believe it should be the role of the state government to own or controll all aspects of the housing industry.  The roll should be to facilitate those businesses (landlords, developers, suppliers, land managers) so that they can compete in a fair and open market.  I would look forward to working with other members of the legislature to find good solutions to this problem.

Do you think we should be marketing our state to outsiders for the purposes of building a brand people relate to as the right place to visit, invest, or live?

Yes, I don’t see any reason we shouldn’t facilitate a commission of tourism industry business leaders and interested parties to develop a unified approach to marketing.  This is not something the state should spend large resources on, but opening a platform of communication between the involved people would be a help.

Would you support Vermont enacting the State and Local Tax (SALT) workaround that 24 other states have enacted? (Learn more here). Please explain your reasoning. 

No, for two reasons: First, the initiative as enacted in other states puts an undue burden on the individual taxpayer with respect to paperwork.  As we all know, some paperwork is good, but increasing it beyond a certain point will create loopholes.  Second, it is unfair to businesses.  Basically, the business owners’ taxes will inevitably have to increase in order to cover the decreased taxes paid by the non-business worker.  Let’s just reduce spending and taxes equally for everyone.  A better thing to work towards is the COS which will attempt to reign in our run-away federal spending habits.

CHI 23

Candidate Biography 

I am a proud Latina born in the U.S. to immigrant parents from Mexico and Ireland. I spent much of my childhood in Montreal and Mexico, attending school in French and Spanish, until I moved to Massachusetts on a scholarship to study at Williams College. I had a one-year Fulbright scholarship to study history in Mexico. I got my graduate degree at UT-Austin, then moved to Burlington for my husband, Will, to work at a law firm. We settled in Essex in 2010. Our children went through the Essex Westford school system. I have taught Spanish at Champlain College and local schools, and for the past two years, I was hired to assist the K-4 classrooms in the Spanish Immersion Program at Jericho Elementary School.

Why are you running?

As a proud Latina living in Vermont for 22 years, I seek racial, environmental, and economic justice for our state residents. Working as an educator during the pandemic revealed so many areas where families need support in our state: housing, the labor shortage, climate change, the overdose epidemic. I am excited to work with fellow delegates to face these challenges.

Why Should Business Owners Support You? 

I want to bring sustainable and equity-driven growth to this state, because without a healthy, educated, and secure population, our state will languish. With an eye to modernizing and improving our economy, I will encourage green energy initiatives in heating and weatherizing, transportation, solar and wind energy, as well as storage. In order to bring more people into our shrinking workforce, I will welcome innovative and hard-working newcomers; Vermont has grown and developed thanks to migratory waves from Quebec, Europe, Mexico and Central America, and larger metropolitan areas of the U.S. I would also invest in our local youth to pursue a trade or attend college. In partnership with our state leadership, I would push for loan forgiveness for those entering health care and education–the fields hardest hit by the pandemic. Our housing crisis requires immediate action; I will push for a streamlined process within developed housing zones, meeting housing needs where there is greatest demand. But the main reason I will help business owners is that I will listen to their concerns through a lens of fairness and equity.

Is Vermont Business Friendly?

Vermont offers many advantages to businesses by supporting the consumers and workers behind these businesses. We score well nationally for our safety, public schools, and our health programs. From ice cream and cheddar, to electric aircraft industries, we can claim innovative and locally grown companies. We need to continue to build crucial infrastructure in telecommunications and broadband access. We must grow green energy such as solar and wind, as well as energy storage. We can streamline the process for developing housing and green energy businesses.

What could the Legislature do to support the creation of more well-paying jobs in Vermont?

We now have plenty of jobs, I would argue, but the problem is a labor shortage. The Legislature can encourage people to move back into the workforce by establishing a livable wage, including for tipped workers, as well as paid family leave and affordable child care. The Legislature can give tax incentives to green businesses that employ our residents. 

How does regulation affect the availability and affordability of housing in Vermont? What should be done to ensure more availability and affordability at a legislative and regulatory level?

Land use permitting incentives are needed to surmount the longstanding barriers and hurdles to construct affordable housing in areas vital to the economy.  Developers will follow the paths of least resistance to avoid unnecessary legal complications.  Predictability, efficiency, and finality in the permitting process benefits builders, but also creates trust in the process for regulators, municipalities, and the public at large.  The role of the legislature is to clear those low-resistance paths, while using tax incentives and subsidies as tools to address social inequities wherever possible.    Separately, we must ensure that existing and new housing is available and affordable for real Vermonters.  This requires laws to disincentivize  (with taxes) foreign LLCs, REITs, and other speculators from purchasing housing purely to drive up prices.  Tax revenues can be used to assist first-time purchasers, and offset the effects of rising prices.   

Do you think we should be marketing our state to outsiders for the purposes of building a brand people relate to as the right place to visit, invest, or live?

Yes — see answer 5.  Moreover, part of what attracts young people and families to Vermont are the progressive values manifested by laws on social justice, renewable energy, the environment, preservation of scenic beauty, and sustainable food and beverage production.  The branding seems to be attracting, but we need to go the extra step by making sure that Vermont can build and expand businesses that exemplify those values (e.g., the Betas, the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and the next Ben & Jerry’s).   

Would you support Vermont enacting the State and Local Tax (SALT) workaround that 24 other states have enacted? (Learn more here). Please explain your reasoning. 

Yes, absolutely (assuming there is no reasonable prospect of a repeal of the abominable, unconscionable 2017 Trump tax cut anytime in the next two years).  Alongside the branding efforts discussed in 9, above, a change in the law would help to overcome Vermont’s unfair reputation as a high-tax, unfriendly-to-business state.  It would also avoid placing Vermont at a competitive disadvantage compared to our New England neighbors.

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