The combined Sheldon and Swanton district has two representatives in the Vermont House of Representatives. Those seats are currently held by Swanton Republicans Brian Savage and Marianna Gamache. Democrat Nick Brosseau was nominated on write-in ballots in the August primary. Independent Tammie Consejo entered the race as a write-in candidate in October.

Nick Brosseau
Democrat
I am running for state representative in Franklin-4 (Sheldon/Swanton) because there was a need. There was no one challenging our Republican incumbents in the district. I did not believe this was right and voters needed a choice. I am a (small p) progressive Democrat and would push for progressive causes in the legislature. I will fight for causes such as expanded access to children’s Pre-K and creating a universal primary care system. I believe that the legislature needs fresh blood and I would be grateful if Sheldon/Swanton voters gave me the honor of being their representative.

Tammie Consejo
Independent
My entry into the race means that voters now have four candidates to choose from for two seats. We’re from both towns, from two parties and an Independent (me); and are two women and two men. But I’m not running just to offer voters choices. As an Independent write-in candidate (write my name on the ballot), I am extremely concerned with polarity in our government today. No one party has all the answers. Polarization means we don’t get enough accomplished, and respect and civility go down. I do not belong to a party and will work with everyone to try to get things done. I am not accepting financial donations for this race. We’re doing this on people power, because that is where power belongs, not from the checkbooks of well-off donors.

Marianna Gamache:
Republican
I am running for State Representative of Swanton and Sheldon. It is my desire to continue to serve my community.

As a Legislator, I consider what is in the best interests of ALL my constituents, as well as all Vermonters. I am mindful that my constituents are folks from different philosophical and political stripes. My voting decisions effect all their lives. Some issues like taxes, education and quality of life, effect them in profound ways.

Four years ago, I had no legislative record. Now, I have one that I am very proud of. I encourage you, my constituents, to review and judge my voting record and to vote to return me to Montpelier, so that I may continue serving you.

Brian Savage
Republican
I am running for re-election for my fifth term as I do enjoy serving the people of the Franklin-4 Legislative District of the Towns of Sheldon and Swanton. I feel I have served them honestly, listened to their concerns, issues and represent them in the best way possible in Montpelier. There are many issues facing Vermonters everyday be it rising education property taxes, clean water, the drug addiction crises and providing economic development to create good paying jobs to keep our young adults in Vermont.

I feel I well qualified just in my years of experience serving as a State Representative since 2009 in addition to my public service that I have given to the Town and Village of Swanton for the past 35 + years. I also have 33 years experience in my career in banking as well as an additional 12 years operating my own small business consulting firm. I look forward serving the fine people of Sheldon and Swanton for another two year term.

State officials have put the cost for cleaning up Lake Champlain at $1.2 billion over 20 years. There is still no agreed upon funding source for this work. How do you think the state should fund its clean water efforts?

Brosseau:
The governor and legislative leaders need to make the lake cleanup a priority in the upcoming legislative session. I would support looking at wide variety of ways to fund the lake cleanup. I believe that per parcel fee could be one way to fund the lake cleanup. Asking property owners to pay $1.00 a year to help clean up our lakes isn’t to much to ask. Businesses and property owners need to do their fair share when it comes to the lake. We also need pressure our federal delegation to see if it is possible to get money for the lake clean up from the federal government. The federal government is mandating the lake cleanup. It is our country’s responsibility to get keep our lakes clean as much as the states. We need to make sure are lake is clean for future generations and everyone can play a part.

Savage:
First, regardless of what funding mechanism is decided upon to meet this obligation, the action plans must be constantly monitored to ensure they are working to produce the results intended and not become another black hole of taxpayer’s money being thrown into and ultimately wasted. As of this time, initially I feel that the source of funds should be diverted from a number of other state programs that deal with environmental conservation programs, such as land conservation and energy efficiency programs that Vermonters have been paying into for years. This would be an interim funding plan with the more permanent plan being put in place within 5 years.  In this way, it could be also determined if any measurable positive results were achieved.

Consejo:
There is a federal mandate to clean up Lake Champlain. We don’t get to say no.

Lake Champlain is not just our baby. We need to form an effective, active task force with representation from Vermont, New York and Quebec, which can more deeply investigate all sources of pollution. If we don’t stop the pollution, we are throwing our money away to clean it up. What are businesses, homes and camps along the lake doing? How are we all handling run-off from roads, fields, driveways and gardens? What are our municipalities doing to prevent raw sewage from flowing into the lake?

I don’t have a neatly packaged solution for you, filled with undeliverable promises so you will elect me. There needs to be multiple solutions from multiple stakeholders. But we can’t dilly-dally; twenty years will go by in a flash. I would first advocate for that task force with VT, NY and Quebec, not for more studies

Possession of a small amount of marijuana in Vermont is now legal. In your view, should the state move forward with a regulated market for marijuana or leave things as they are now?

Brosseau:
I believe we need to create a retail market for marijuana. It makes no sense to me legalize marijuana and not create a way to tax it. Right now the only people who benefit from legal marijuana is people on the back market. Our state is losing out on tax dollars that could be used to fund education and healthcare. With Massachusetts and Canada legalizing marijuana it has become inevitable. Critics will say marijuana is bad for your health, but studies have proven marijuana is no worse for someone then alcohol or tobacco. The benefits of legalizing marijuana outweighs any cons

Gamache:
I am not in favor of moving forward on the marijuana issue until the federal government classification of marijuana has been changed from a schedule 1 drug, which is illegal, to a legal drug.

As I frequently remind my legislative colleagues, no matter what legislation is passed in Vermont, marijuana is still an illegal, illicit federal drug. I, as well as the majority of my constituents, do not approve of legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes since, unlike alcohol, there is no test for demonstrating impairment at an established level.

We run the risk of being assessed federal government penalties for allowing the issuance of a “medical marijuana” credential by a state agency to a Vermont resident, for the purpose of acquiring marijuana for “medical” use through a state authorized dispensary. While I am in favor of marijuana extracts being used for medicinal purposes, it is still illegal by federal law, to do so.

Consejo:
No and Yes to moving forward with a regulated market. No, not yet, because I think we passed the most recent law too soon. We were not ready enough for law enforcement to test for impaired driving. I don’t see how we can enforce the new law effectively, either. We were also not ready with enough education about the effects of marijuana. Do I have moral judgment against those who use marijuana? No. I support medical marijuana to expand into mental health treatment as soon as possible, however.

Savage:
Before we even consider moving forward with the regulated market for marijuana, there must be a roadside test instituted in Vermont to determine probable cause in the event of a driver operating under the influence of marijuana. This legislation was passed last year in the House but died in the Senate Judiciary Committee, so there is still a long ways to go before the regulated market can be considered. Also, if and when it is considered it also should be regulated the same as alcohol with each town and city voting whether to allow the sale with their community.

This past session the legislature approved a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024, which was then vetoed by Gov. Phil Scott. Do you support raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour?

Brosseau:
I believe the minimum wage should be $15.00 an hour. It should also be raised over a certain amount of years. Raising the minimum wage will put more money into people’s pockets and will help grow our local economy. It will give people more ability to pay for vital needs such rent, child care, utilities etc. It will help working families in this state. By raising the minimum wage over certain number of years it will give small businesses time to prepare for the new wage. People say this state is unaffordable. I think raising the minimum wage will make this state more affordable for working people. It will pump more money into the local economy

Savage:
The proposed increase in the minimum wage will place Vermont and Vermonters at a competitive disadvantage in the area of economic growth and development. The minimum wage was never designed to be the permanent solution but merely a stepping stone for entry level positions. In addition there is what is known as the “compression factor” whereby all positions within a company will need to have their pay scales adjusted to account for the increase in the minimum wage. This will be just another reason for a business to reduce its staff, cease business operations all together, or in the case of new business coming into the state, to simply move on to a more business friendly state.

Gamache:
The minimum wage has historically been a “no experience” entry level wage and was never intended to be a living wage.

The majority of small Vermont businesses employ between 10 and 50 people. Many are overburdened with business taxes, permit fees, healthcare and energy costs, unemployment insurance benefit costs, business property taxes, permit and operation fees, regulations, etc. To add the additional burden of mandating a costly $15 per hour minimum wage, would cause some businesses to close and others to move their enterprise to a less restrictive and more pro-business state, such as New Hampshire.

Government’s role is to create the environment for businesses to grow, expand and flourish, thereby increasing the number of good paying jobs and strengthening the local state economy.

Jobs are often lost when minimum wage is increased. One answer: a skills building curriculum for higher paying entry level technology and industrial jobs.

Consejo:
I support raising the minimum wage BUT we can’t be so eager that we cause unintended consequences. We need to think about the benefits cliff. When those receiving Medicaid, food stamps, heating assistance and more earn a higher income, they can lose so much assistance that they sometimes have to choose whether or not to keep the job. Or, they might keep the job but struggle more than they were before. We need to figure out how to gradually increase wages while concurrently putting benefits on more of a sliding scale, which will ultimately lead to more social and economic benefits for all of us. We also need to explore ways to support business owners in raising the minimum wage for their employees without putting jobs and businesses at risk.

With both dairy farmers and their vendors struggling after four years of low milk prices, what action, if any, do you think the state should take to assist farmers and other agricultural businesses?

Brosseau:
The federal government ultimately handles the price of milk in the state of Vermont. We need to pressure our federal delegation and Congress to provide a new supply management system that will benefit Vermont’s dairy farmers. Our state needs to invest in our dairy farmers. We need to incentivise farmers to sell their milk online and find ways to make it easier for farmers to sell their products locally. We need to invest in expanded access to broadband all over the state. We also have to pressure our federal delegation to remove trade barriers that prevents farmers from selling milk in different markets. Our state also needs to do more to invest in cheaper child care and healthcare which will reduce the cost of living for our dairy farmers. We also need to look at providing low interest loans to dairy farmers in the state. It essential that our state helps its dairy farmers and as a state legislator I will try find unique solutions to do so

Consejo:
Dairy prices are set by the Federal Government, but Vermont lawmakers and the Governor can more actively advocate with our federal Senators, Representative and the President. We may be able to help by supporting farmers in meeting current regulations, which some cannot afford, even if they think it is the right thing to do. What are we doing to control energy costs? How are we helping market Vermont products? Is health insurance really affordable? Can we help finance their needs in a variety of ways? Can we incentivize diversification so dairy farmers do not need to rely so heavily on milk prices? Helping farmers will help the businesses who rely directly on them. And when farmers struggle, it negatively affects the economy for all of us.

Gamache:
Milk is subject to Federal Order #1, which regulates milk pricing and has not been changed since its inception in 1933.

More than 60 percent of Vermont’s milk is shipped out of state, only 5 percent consumed in Vermont. Yearly, overproduction of milk results in farmers dumping a portion of it. This results in great economic loss for farmers and Vermonters. The disparity between the gallon weight price paid to farmers and the retail price paid by Vermonters shows that milk distributors receive a greater profit than dairy farmers.

Federal law has precedence over state law. However, in 2017, Vermont passed Act 77 and the recommendations of the State Milk Commission were presented to the Congressional Agriculture Committee. Congress has passed a 2018 farm bill, which is stuck in the conference committee. Vermonters should contact Sen Leahy, a senior member of the Agriculture Committee and demand passage now!

Do you believe the gun laws passed by the legislature this past session need to be reversed, will work just as they are, or that additional measures are required?

Brosseau:
I support the gun legislation recently passed by the legislature. I believe that new legislation was needed and the legislation makes our communities safer. The mass shootings and the recent attempts at mass shootings in this country have made changes to our laws necessary. Reducing the magazine limit in guns will make it easier to tackle the perpetrator during the massing shooting act itself. Critics will say that it only takes a couple seconds to change a magazine which makes sense on face value. Those couple of seconds have been used in past mass shootings to tackle the gunmen. I believe that raising the age to purchase guns will also make our communities safer. I think it is reasonable to ask someone under 21 to take a hunter safety course before purchasing a firearm. I believe in protecting people in our communities and the gun legislation does just that.

Savage:
I voted against S.55 (now Act No. 94) and I would vote to repeal all provisions of the act except for the original language that give the authority to the Department of Public Safety to transfer firearms in its possession to the Department of Buildings and General Service for sale to federally licensed firearms dealers.

However as we know, there was an opportunity seen with the bill to add language that requires background checks on private sales of firearms, prohibits sales of firearms to persons under 21 years of age, with certain exceptions, prohibits magazines of accepting more than 10 rounds of ammunition for long gun or more than 15 rounds for a hand gun, and prohibits the possession of bump-fire stocks. It is these provisions that in my opinion were not needed in Vermont and from a practical point are unenforceable and some may well be unconstitutional.

Gamache:
I am opposed to any laws that infringe on our 2nd Amendment U.S. Constitutional rights. Law abiding citizens, who possess or desire to buy firearms legally, should not have their rights infringed upon because of the actions of lawbreakers. The passage of S.55 will have no effect regarding firearm school safety. It is an unnecessary law and should be repealed. I voted against it.

Vermont has the lowest or second lowest incidence of gun violence in the U.S., depending on the statistic. Required background checks on gun buyers affect approximately 80 percent of those purchases and that has been the law for some years. Additional legislation to protect people in a threatened domestic violence situation, while insuring that the accusers “due process” rights are protected was passed into law during the last legislative session.

Vermont needs to address mental health issues, not increase gun laws.

Consejo:
I support S.22, an “Extreme Protection Order,” to allow law enforcement to remove guns and explosives from someone who has shown risk to themselves or others; and H.422, which relates to removal of firearms from a person arrested or cited for domestic assault. I’m on the fence about S.55. I like some of it, don’t like some of it, and can accept the reasoning behind some of it. I do believe the intent was to keep our citizens safer, especially our children in schools. Violence is not caused by guns, though. We are in more danger with a false sense of security if we think taking guns away will take care of the problem; it won’t. Government can help, but it will take ALL of us, outside of government, to make this massive shift in our culture, at the local, state and national levels, including from some of our leaders.

Last session, the General Assembly approved a bill which would have used a payroll tax to create a paid family leave system. Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the bill. Should Vermont offer paid family leave? If so, how should we pay for it?

Brosseau:
I support paid family leave for Vermonters and the country as a whole. It would help working families in this state. The US is the only industrial nation on the planet that does not offer paid maternity leave. In fact the US lags behind many non-industrial nations as well. The first few weeks of a child’s life is a very special time for a parent. I believe that a parents income level should not decide rather or not a parent can get to spend time with their child. Parents with a lower income should have just as much time to prepare for a child’s future as those with a higher income level. I would support a modest payroll deduction similar to the one in H.916 to pay for the program. Politicians who oppose this legislation are denying a benefit that all working citizens deserve.

Consejo:
Our country should provide paid family leave but we’re not there yet, so Vermont should figure this out as soon as possible. It doesn’t appear the plan passed by the legislature is financially sustainable. Unfunded and underfunded mandates put great strain on budgets, which then forces us to make even tougher decisions. This is not just an issue for those with children. Elders are living longer; loved ones need to leave work to care for them. I want to explore additional, SUSTAINABLE ways to fund paid family leave. This will make Vermont more attractive to families, which will bring more tax revenue into the state, including to our schools. We need to investigate where we’re wasting money throughout government, and where we could be more efficient with spending. Lack of paid family leave already negatively impacts our state and will become worse over time.

Savage:
I am opposed to any mandatory program as well as any new payroll taxes on working Vermonters. On H.196, I had serious reservations as to the overall costs of such a program, both in the initial set up of the plan as well as the benefits being paid out over time. To the best of my knowledge there was no study or opinion of the plan done by an actuary to determine if the income and expenses of the plan were correct.

I would favor a total voluntary plan, administered and purchased from a commercial insurance company to cover the loss of income. I would be also in favor of the resources of the State Treasurer’s Office and the Department of Financial Regulation being used to solicit proposals from insurance companies for this coverage for those who want it and are willing to voluntarily pay for it.

The period for voluntary mergers under Act 46 is coming to a close, and some communities facing a mandated merger of their school district are deeply unhappy. Should the state continue on the course it set when Act 46 passed, particularly since districts across the state merged voluntarily under the rules established with Act 46, or should changes be made to accommodate those who are unhappy over potential district mergers?

Brosseau:
I support making Act 46 voluntary for school districts. I do however support aspects of Act 46. Declining student populations in this state have made change necessary. Smaller school districts will not have enough of a student population to be able to sustain themselves and will not be able to provide the same services that schools in larger districts do. Act 46 in the long run will save on administrative costs and will give school districts more ability to pay for programs in their schools. Act 46 has also shown to give parents and children more choice when it comes to what schools they enroll their children in. I don’t believe school districts should be forced to consolidate. Forcing districts to consolidate is not worth the time, effort, and legal costs. I think parts of Act 46 should be taken at look at by the legislature and repealed.

Savage:
No, the state should NOT continue on the course it has until the Legislature can review the concerns expressed by several communities that are not happy with the actions of the State Board of Education that run contrary to the voters decisions on a merger in their respective districts. If communities have voted to merger and are happy with the merger in their respective communities, then those mergers should continue as proposed.

The State Board of Education needs to be reined in and told in no uncertain terms that they are to treat the school boards who appear before them with respect and not act like a bunch of tyrannical elitists. Their actions clearly prove what I have been saying for years, “local control” in the State of Vermont is a myth. Instead of coming down on our communities with a hammer, the State Board should listen to all sides and give equal consideration to extenuating circumstance that communities face in the operation of their schools.

Gamache:
Vermont communities should be able to retain control over all decisions regarding their schools. I was never in favor of Act 46 and its mandate of school mergers and I voted NO!

Currently, there is a lawsuit pending in the Vermont Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of Act 46. The case is scheduled to begin the first week of October, 2018.

School boards across Vermont have worked diligently to comply with school restructuring that would meet the Agency of Education’s state waiver requirements. Their achievements appear to not impress the Agency of Education, much to the consternation of the school boards and their community tax paying voters.

Until the matter of the constitutionality of Act 46 is resolved by the Supreme Court, pending school mergers should not proceed.

Consejo:
I believe the intentions of Act 46 were good; then reality hit us. Mergers actually ARE best for some school districts, such as the successful merger of Maple Run School District, comprised of Fairfield, St. Albans City and St. Albans Town. On the other hand, towns such as Sheldon and Franklin are doing well on their own; these communities voted not to merge. In Act 46, we are seeing an example of too much government interference with a one-size-fits-all approach.

I would not try to repeal Act 46 because some schools have formed successful mergers. But if needed, I would support adjusting it to fit the needs of those communities who don’t want to merge.

Last year, Vermont’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality, Affordable Child Care found that almost half of Vermont’s infants and toddlers with working parents are not in a regulated child care program either in a center or at home. What, if anything, should the state do to address the gap between available child care slots and need?

Brosseau:
Our communities need to invest more in rural transportation. It will help our state reduce carbon emissions and help the local economy in the area. It will give people who have transportation issues more access to jobs. It will provide more jobs to people in the local area too. I also support more investment in renewable energy in the area. More solar and wind projects will provide jobs to our rural communities and would be good for environment. We need to make it easier for entrepreneurs start renewable projects in our communities. Another way to create more development is expanding access of high speed internet and cell phone service. There are many ways we can facilitate rural development in our communities.

Consejo:
There already was a shortage of affordable, quality childcare/daycare options before our government stepped in and over-regulated the industry. This well-intentioned “protection” of children put more of them at risk and created a childcare and economic crisis for the whole state. Some great daycares, especially home daycares, were financially forced out of business and some are in danger of closing. Now, more children are in un-regulated, un-monitored daycares and some parents have had to give up jobs. Job loss creates a negative economic trajectory, with more families needing food stamps, fuel assistance and Medicaid and who are at risk of bankruptcy, losing homes, damaged credit, and more. I don’t have all the answers, but we need to address this in the next session.

Savage:
The availability of affordable child care for parents is once again a result of the State of Vermont getting involved in an area with new rules and regulations that put many of the child care providers out of business. There has been a conflict within the legislature between the Human Services Committees and the Education Committees as the role of child care has evolved into an early education role as the child’s age progresses. This scenario has caused an environment of over regulations and expense for the child care providers.

I feel that all the rules and regulations need to be streamlined to avoid the confusion. However, the health and safety standards need to be workable and not at a level that exceeds the prior standards that had been in place for years. As far as a regulated child care program in the home, the state needs to stay out of the homes of our families’ period.

Connectivity — access to high speed internet and cell phone service — is limited in many parts of the state and efforts to provide that access have, thus far, not been entirely successful. What do you think the state should do to bring internet and cell phone access to rural areas?

Brosseau:
If our state wants to bring jobs to our local communities and incentivise entrepreneurs, we need to have high speed internet and cell phone service that reaches all parts of the state. Parts of Franklin county do not have access to high speed internet or cell phone service. I believe that hurts our local economy. I would support similar plan offered by gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist to solve this problem. I would support mandating electric utilities around the state to hang fiber optic cables. It would bring more jobs to this state and would be to the benefit of our local electric utilities too.

Gamache:
Connectivity in Vermont is a difficult issue to solve because of geographical limitations and evolving technology. We are a small state, but we are geographically divided by mountainous topography and vast forest lands.

As an example of the time delays involved in expanding a new technology state wide, I remember my husband, a native born Vermonter,  explaining to me that when electricity came to Vermont it took many, many years until it became available throughout the state, with the last town becoming electrified in 1965.

Similar to the expansion of electricity throughout Vermont having taken place over many decades, so will the expansion of connectivity continue over an extended period of time. Through private sector development, technological obstacles will be solved and connectivity throughout Vermont will occur.

Consejo:
I have long wondered why we don’t partner with electric utilities, cable companies and satellite companies to strengthen our internet and cell service with existing infrastructures. I would like our government (and citizens) to investigate the possibilities. Connectivity is no longer a luxury. We need this to attract large, medium and small businesses, and support the growth of telecommuting options for existing companies and organizations as well. In my own small business, I serve more than 50% of my clients online. That number would be higher if more potential clients had strong internet service. Strong internet service in beautiful Vermont would also help attract and keep workers and families.

Savage:
In the mid-1930’s, the federal government passed the Rural Electrification Act (REA), to provide government loans for the purpose of bringing electricity to Americans, including Vermonters, at a reasonable cost.

In doing some research on the REA, I found that it has been amended many times since it’s initial enactment and found that in 2008 language was added that included provisions for access to rural broadband telecommunications network and rural internet..  So, I feel the first step if it has not already been done, is for the state to research if Vermont has explored these provisions.  Secondly if it has, but found that for whatever reason it simply would not fit Vermont’s needs, then consult with the staff of our federal delegation to determine what other states still have connectivity issues and work on additional federal legislation to address those issues.

Affordability has become a buzz word in Vermont politics, with a suggestion that either a high cost of living, high taxes or both make Vermont unaffordable, driving out young families and those on fixed incomes. Do you think this is an accurate view? Would you define affordability differently?

Brosseau:
There are many ways we can make child care more affordable in Vermont. One of those ways is raising the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. Putting more money into people’s pockets will give them more of an ability to pay for child care. The state legislature also needs to work on expanding children’s access to Pre-K. As a state legislator, I would support creating a tuition assistance program that will help parents pay for their child’s Pre-K and other child care programs. Studies have shown children do better throughout school if they have attended Pre-K. It should be priority of the legislature to make sure that all children have equal access to education and child care programs. We owe it to the working families of this state

Gamache:
The cost of living in Vermont has increased substantially over the past two decades. It has reached a level that many Vermonters both young and old can no longer sustain and they are moving to a more affordable state.

Many Vermonters struggle to pay their property and local education taxes, automobile gas, home heating fuel, health insurance, child care, professional education tuition and other necessary expenses. Too many working people are struggling and living paycheck to paycheck, without being able to save for future needs, including student loan debt repayment and retirement. Many Vermonters on fixed incomes are unable to maintain their standard of living.

I define affordability as, being able to secure the financial resources required to pay for all household and personal expenses, as well as short and long term savings and investing, that will meet the needs of the individual or family on an annual basis.

Consejo:
Yes, Vermont has an affordability crisis. As an Independent Write-in Candidate, I don’t have major party researchers providing me with their positions, well-spun statistics and catchy campaign slogans about this. But if there is only so much money to go around, and we can’t tax ourselves beyond the breaking point (where some of us already are), we need to take this problem seriously. We need to work together to change this.

Affordability means: a) being able to have a decent life meeting basic needs, and b) to not demand tax breaks when you can afford to pay your fair share; that is a hand-out, too.

Savage:
Yes, it is an accurate view that affordability is a serious issue in Vermont. However this is not a new problem. About 20 years ago it was reported that average Vermonters could not afford the averaged priced home in Vermont. In addition to high real estate prices, we are faced with high heating costs, high taxes and although it is reported we have the cheapest electric rates in New England, compared to the rest of the nation, they are some of the highest.

I personally know of several couples who have sold their homes in Vermont in the past year or so and have moved to other states where the cost of living is cheaper. I define affordability by how much households have left over at the end of each month after the all expenses are taken care of, also known as the “savings rate” that nationally is very low.

Every candidate agrees there’s a need for rural development in our communities. How specifically would you facilitate rural development?

Brosseau:
I do believe there are ways we can make living in Vermont more affordable. Unlike what Republicans say taxes are not the only reason why living in this state is unaffordable. Taxes are only part of the reason. I would support paying for education through an income tax and not a property tax. That will remove the burden for paying for education on to high income earners and will be a fairer way to pay for education in this state. I also support universal primary care. Universal primary care will reduce healthcare costs for patients in Vermont. I also support raising the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. This will put more money into people’s pockets and help the local economy. There are many ways we can make Vermont more affordable and as a legislator I will push for them.

Gamache:
Rural development requires jobs and people. The state can help facilitate business growth through its policies regarding vocational secondary and post secondary education, infrastructure, energy, taxes and regulation.

Businesses require low taxes, minimum regulation and a stable, affordable supply of energy and workers to produce and/or sell their products.

Vermont has increased the types of technical and skills building industrial arts education, which is necessary for today’s job market. Improved access to this training requires infrastructure development of an adequate transportation system. It would facilitate the growth of individual or small business opportunities by being able to transport raw material and products. It would attract and encourage our young people to stay in Vermont and help grow our economy.

Rural development depends on a variety of pro-business legislation. Current policies create hardships for businesses to succeed and flourish. New legislation is needed to fix existing laws, such as Act 250 and its permitting process and costs.

Consejo:
First, I’d build on the good work that already takes place in both towns in my district by a variety of community groups. But what does community-building (and community pride) have to do with Rural Development? Everything. Healthy communities work together, and become towns in which others want to live. That helps with economic development and growing the tax base. With more money flowing into communities, we have more ability to tackle other aspects of rural development, such as working on expanding transportation options and adding new businesses and jobs. This in turn makes it more do-able to afford the infrastructure to support them. With more active community members, we also further develop towns via volunteers and many leadership opportunities. My campaign slogan is, People-Above-Party: Building Stronger Communities Together. And that philosophy certainly impacts rural development.

Savage:
Many people have stated the need over the years for more rural development. In order to grow the economy, increase the tax base (and reduce the tax rate) and provide jobs for Vermonters, it is essential that development takes place in our rural areas.

I have stated for years, the most serious impediment to ANY development is the lengthy and expensive permitting process we have under Act 250. The potential for endless appeals have delayed projects in Franklin County as long as 20 years, most businesses would not tie up their resources and money in a project this long. Act 250’s process needs serious major surgery to streamline obtaining the permit and stop the endless appeals. Furthermore criteria 9L that was passed several years ago has to be repealed. Hopefully progress will be made to amending Act 250 to get some development moving.

Candidates were asked to make their final, brief pitch to voters.

Brosseau:
If I am elected to the legislature I promise to be not just a no vote on legislation. I will actively work to solve problems that Sheldon/Swanton and our state face. We need someone in the legislature that will actively support programs and legislation that will help working families in our state. I promise to do just that. I will support legislation such as a $15.00 minimum wage and paid family leave. I will work to enact progressive legislation in the legislature and it will be to the benefit of all Vermonters.

I am honored to be considered as your Senator. I believe my experience will serve you well, should you elect me. I am excited to have diverse endorsements, from State Sen. Carolyn Branagan to US Sen. Bernie Sanders. I feel I can represent everyone by listening well, collaborating effectively, and acting with integrity. I ask for your vote Nov. 6.

Consejo:
Your votes DO matter, especially in local and Vermont-State politics. Decisions impacting your life are being made without you if you don’t use your voice. You don’t have to be an expert. I suggest you review each candidate’s positions and history to see whose beliefs and conduct most resonate with you, and/or who you most trust to make fair and wise decisions?

If you are tired of parties fighting and not working together, and want a representative who is Independent and not beholden to a party, who will work with all politicians to get things done, and who will listen to voices who were not heard before, write my name on the ballot as one of your two choices for the Sheldon/Swanton District. Learn more on Facebook at Tammie Consejo for State Representative and on my website, info@tammieforrep.com.

Gamache:
As we head towards Election Day this Nov 6, I wish to extend thanks to all my constituents in Swanton and Sheldon for the consistent support I have received and again, ask for your support.

During the time I have been in office, I voted to support the economic well being of all my hardworking constituents, by voting against legislation that would have increased school tax burdens on Vermonters and on the Act 46 education bill, which forces compliance of school mergers. In addition, I voted against the state mandate requiring Vermont residents to purchase health insurance, which was passed by the majority Democrat Party.

If I am again honored to be re-elected  as your Representative, I will continue to fight against legislation, such as a carbon or gas mileage tax and any legislation that would violate guaranteed rights of the Vermont or the U.S. Constitution.

Savage:
For those residents who have recently moved into the District, I have been a lifelong resident of Swanton. I have been active in many community organizations and served on the Swanton Village Board of Trustees for 15 years. I am seeking my sixth term as your Representative in the Vermont House.

During my tenure, I have respected all of my constituents and have always treated them with respect. I have made myself available to speak with anyone on any concerns they may have and I look for solutions to problems they encounter in dealing with the state bureaucracy.

I am a fiscal conservative, law and order advocate, work hard for economic development and will continue to make Vermont a more affordable place to live, raise a family and retire in. I look forward to continue representing the people of Sheldon and Swanton for another two years.