House Seat Up for Grabs

EAST MONTPELIER/MIDDLESEX — Six people have thrown their hats in the ring to succeed Vermont House Representative Tony Klein, D-Washington 5, of East Montpelier. Klein announced this past term would be his last during the legislative session. Klein has served for 14 years, according to his website He was known for his work as chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. He also worked on marriage equality and support for the effort to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Six are vying for Klein’s former House seat. Of those, three submitted press releases to The Bridge:

Ginny Burley — education candidate

Ginny Burley

Ginny Burley

Ginny Burley of East Montpelier announced April 21 that she is a candidate to represent East Montpelier and Middlesex in the House of Representatives. The Democratic primary is scheduled for August 9.

Burley hopes her years of experience on local school boards and her work with local non-profits supporting youth have prepared her well for the job. She represented East Montpelier on the U-32 school board for 18 years, including 10 years as chair. She helped create the Four Corners Schoolhouse Association, was the founding director of the Central Vermont New Directions Coalition, a substance abuse prevention organization and the founding Director of Community Connections, which provides expanded learning opportunities for youth in Central Vermont. She has a master’s degree in English, is a graduate of the Snelling Center’s Vermont Leadership Institute, and has a certificate in non-profit management from Marlboro College.

Burley said, “My time on the U-32 board taught me to listen to the community, to work collaboratively, and to find consensus. I helped see the building project through to fruition, and got the capital fund established to sustain that work. Founding both New Directions and Community Connections taught me to understand community needs, have a vision, think about systems, and find the right partners. These skills will be invaluable in the legislature. I have also spent quite a bit of time in the State House for the past few years, working on issues involving substance abuse and expanded learning opportunities, including serving on three summer legislative study committees under the Pre-K through 16 Council. I am ready and willing to serve our communities.”

Carl Etnier — fusion candidate

Carl Etnier

Carl Etnier

Carl Etnier of East Montpelier announced he is running to represent Middlesex and East Montpelier in the Vermont House of Representatives. He turned in his petitions by the deadline to be placed on the ballot for the Democratic primary. He has been active in both the Democratic and Progressive parties, and he hopes to run in November as a fusion candidate.

Etnier cited strengthened local food, energy and purchases as areas he’d like the legislature to continue to help the state develop. “We have a statewide food strategy, and we’ve added over 5,000 jobs to the food and agriculture sector since that was adopted in 2011. We have a state energy strategy, and Vermont has more than 17,000 workers in the growing clean energy sector. That’s a good start — and we can do much more.”

It’s also important for Vermont to push the envelope to rein in the influence of money in politics, Etnier said. “With new membership ahead on the U.S. Supreme Court, the door is open to challenging Citizens United and related rulings that have thwarted Vermont’s campaign finance laws in the past. And under current law, we need to use the best practices for campaign financing and legislative ethics.”

A member of the Hunger Mountain Coop Council and the East Montpelier Select Board, Etnier brings experience in governing bodies. He is a graduate of the Snelling Center’s Vermont Leadership Institute. He has covered state and local news for Goddard College Community Radio (WGDR-WGDH), WDEV radio, Vermont Digger, the Times Argus, The Bridge, The World and other publications, and broadcast outlets.

Etnier works at Goddard College at the radio station. Before he got into media, his previous career was in sustainable water and wastewater treatment, which included five years at Stone Environmental in Montpelier. There he consulted for municipalities and brought ground-breaking ideas to the national conversation in the field through EPA-funded research projects. He has lived in Japan, Sweden and Norway, where he did Ph.D. studies at the Agricultural University of Norway. His M.A. is in liberal education from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and his Bachelor’s of Science is in sustainable agriculture (botany and crop ecology) from Cornell University.

Matt Swenson — a ‘new vision’ candidate

Matt Swenson

Matt Swenson

Matt Swenson, a veteran of the environmental field, is running for State Representative East Montpelier/Middlesex with a bold new vision for Vermonters. In announcing his candidacy, Swenson said, “I wanted a way to serve, to help address the issues facing Vermonters and to bring a new vision of what Vermont can be.” And that vision begins with addressing head on the economic, educational and environmental issues facing the people of Vermont.

The economy: simply put there are not enough well paying jobs in Vermont due to hundreds of layoffs and closures of businesses. As a result, young people are leaving the state; many people are working two or three jobs to make ends meet. Swenson envisions creating a thriving economic environment that encourages, supports and attracts small businesses and start-ups, especially high tech companies that will attract young people.

Education: Swenson backs an innovative approach to improving schools which incudes focusing on better training in the skills students need for high tech jobs and a strong emphasis on service learning similar to that provided by Americorps.

The environment: developers threaten Vermont’s open land and farm land. In his years of experience working for government and private sectors, Swenson has seen that the right approach to environmental issues achieves success. He calls for a long range plan to protect the small farms and open spaces that are among Vermont’s greatest strengths. The present government is failing to address these issues. Through his work covering the political scene for Public Access TV, Swenson has seen the need for a fresh approach that will get government back to its primary goal of facilitating opportunities for all people in the state. His strategy? Swenson hopes to start an independent movement that will get people engaged in a real political campaign. This, he believes, will bring people together to build on the great strengths of Vermont and create a strong and prosperous future for all Vermonters.

Also running for Washington-5 are Kimberly Jessup, Democrat, Middlesex; Bradford ‘Dexter’ Lefavour, Republican, Middlesex, and Kim Swasey, Democrat, East Montpelier.


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