By Rep. JESSICA BRUMSTED
This first week in Montpelier was a snowy one and travel was tough, but that didn’t slow down the important work of opening a new biennium.
We started on Jan. 9 taking the oath of office. I was proud to raise my hand along with my 149 House colleagues and pledge “to be true to the State of Vermont constitution.” It is a tremendous honor to serve Shelburne and St. George, and I am eager to begin my second term as your representative.
Opening remarks from our legislative leaders and governor provided hope that in Vermont we will do our best to work together throughout these next two years. Speaker Mitzi Johnson spoke of civility, inclusivity and respect. She said, “We have much work to do to bring ALL voices to the table in the crucial discussions we have.”
Johnson’s committee assignments reflected her intent to have all voices heard by including members of all four caucuses – Democrat, Republican, Progressive and Independent – in each committee to the extent possible by their respective numbers. Johnson appointed 19 Democrats, seven Republicans, one Independent and one Progressive to leadership positions. These appointments are proportional to the political makeup of the House: 95 Democrats, 43 Republicans, seven Progressives and five Independents.
During my first session, I served on the House Government Operations Committee, where I learned a great deal about the workings of municipal government, state pension plans, reapportionment, elections and public records. I have now been moved to House Human Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Ann Pugh of South Burlington, and I look forward to new areas of discussions and lawmaking. The committee works on matters ranging from birth to aging; child care, early care and education; safety for our elders and disabled; and fundamentally works to ensure the public health and social and economic security of all Vermonters.
As I have mentioned in previous columns, it was my privilege to work for Vermont Sen. James Jeffords for 12 years. No public servant understood the need to compromise and work together to resolve difficult problems better than Jeffords. Gov. Phil Scott quoted Jeffords in his inaugural speech this week by recalling his words upon retirement: “In no other job do you have both the freedom and the obligation to solve problems and help people on a daily basis.”
Solving problems and helping people is why I ran for office. During my years working for Sen. Jeffords, I came to understand the power an elected officeholder has to help others by working across party lines to resolve problems, from the simplest to the most complex and complicated. That is work that cannot be done without working together, and I will continue to be thoughtful and to engage collaboratively as I go about the business of solving problems across the spectrum.
As your representative, it is important that you have access to me, and it is important for me to hear from you about the work we are doing in Montpelier and about any concerns you have. To that end, Rep. Kate Webb and I will keep you informed through articles in the Shelburne News as we have in the past.
Additionally, this year we will also be available for discussions on the second Saturday of each month from 8-9 a.m. at the Village Wine and Coffee shop. We began those meetings last week and were pleased with the turnout of our constituents, and we look forward to the meetings scheduled for Feb. 9 and March 9.
If you have any questions about legislation or need help with an issue or concern, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave me a voice message at 802-828-2228, and I will return your call.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve.
Jessica Brumsted, a Democrat, represents part of Shelburne and St. George in the Vermont House of Representatives.