Essex Jct. voters have a pair of Democratic incumbents and a Republican challenger vying for support heading into the August primary.
Democrats Lori Houghton and Dylan Giambatista are both running for re-election in the Chittenden 8-2 district alongside Republican John R. Brennan.
So voters can get to know the candidates, The Essex Reporter posed them a series of questions, giving a 400-word limit to split between three answers. They were also asked to provide a short biography. Brennan didn’t respond by press time. Reached via phone on Tuesday morning, he said he’s been busy at work and isn’t always great at checking his email.
Another round of questions will be posed in the coming months since all village candidates will move on to the general election in November.
Next week’s Reporter will feature the Chittenden 8-1 candidates.
Here are the questions and each candidate’s responses:
1. Why are you running for office, and why are you qualified to serve?
2. If elected, what will be your main priority and why?
3. How should the state address education funding in the future?
• State Representative 2016 – 2018
• Village Trustee 2011 – current
• Small business owner
• Snelling Center for Government, Vermont Leadership Institute Graduate (VLI) – 2016
• Heart and Soul of Essex Community Advisory Board where we procured and executed on a $100k planning grant resulting in creation of shared values between Essex Town and Essex Junction that now inform many of our decisions
• Helped create, launch and lead the Five Corners Farmers Market
• School volunteer
• Active 25+ year career in sales, management and operations, honing my skills in strategic planning, financial analysis, budgeting and systems thinking
• Married and raising a family in Essex Jct.
1)First and foremost, we need more legislators who have young children. They are our future and their voice needs to be heard. My personal experience has me well suited to not only speak for children, but to understand the needs of working parents, small business owners, individuals with mental health issues, and having to care for a family member with an illness while trying to maintain a job. My work experience allows me to use my skills in budgeting and systems thinking to ensure that we pass legislation that works for all Vermonters. Lastly, many legislative decisions impact the Village directly – my Trustee experience ensures I’m keeping the Villages best interests in mind.
2)Working towards a Vermont that strives to better the lives of all Vermonters by ensuring they can care for and support themselves, while building stronger healthier communities and a robust economy. I look forward to continuing my work on the healthcare committee. Health impacts all facets of all Vermonter’s lives. Issues of affordability and accessibility are top of mind concerns but healthcare affects the jobs we hold, the jobs available, the property taxes we pay, and the decisions we make for our families. We need to counter the damaging effects of decisions made at the federal level and continue working towards healthcare as a basic human right for all.
3)We need to remember education enhances the lives of children, families and communities. Education is an economic driver and is a key component of a robust economy. Education leads to healthier families who are more engaged in their community. But we need to ensure that the education of our children serves them and the future they are facing. Our system is too complex, costly and not transparent. We made quite a few changes this past year – moving non-k-12 programs out of the education fund and creating flexibility in special education dollars – to name two. But we need to keep looking at the system; what is working and what isn’t in both programming and funding and at both a state and regional level. I believe we should move to a less complex, more transparent income based funding system, but also need to let the full effects of Act 46 settle. There is no easy answer, but I’m committed to looking at evidence and listening to you. Please reach out directly with questions 373-0599 or visit www.lorihoughton.com.
• Born and raised in Rutland County, Vt.
• Spouse: Candace Morgan
• Education: Community College of Vermont (A.A.); Johnson State College (B.A.)
• Occupation: Director of Financial Literacy and Outreach, Office of the State Treasurer
• Member of the Essex Board of Civil Authority
• Member of the Essex Community Historical Society Board of Directors
• Member of the House of Representatives (2017-2018)
• Member of the House Education Committee
• Member of the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees
• Member of the Vermont Jump$tart Coalition Board of Directors
• Selected in 2017 as one of Vermont Business Magazine’s “Rising Stars” under 40
1)It has been an honor to serve the Village of Essex Junction during my first term as State Representative. I am running for re-election to advocate for our community by bringing your voice to the State House. I am a lifelong Vermonter who faced struggles as a young person, dropped out of high school, and rediscovered my passion for learning at the Community College of Vermont. My background drew me to public service. Prior to serving as one of your State Representatives, I was a policy advisor to the State Treasurer, and worked in the legislative branch as Chief of Staff to the Speaker of the Vermont House.
2) I have enjoyed working with neighbors, businesses, community leaders, and local officials to bring the voices of Essex Junction to the State House. I’ve tried to be an open, accessible Representative who provides regular updates so you can weigh in and share feedback. Together with Rep. Lori Houghton, we’ve held numerous forums to draw neighbors into the process.
Our work unfolds at a time when many worry about the direction of our country and gridlock in Washington DC. One of my main priorities has been to work with members of all political parties at the State House. I believe this nonpartisan approach was key to the success of several of the initiatives I worked on in my first term, including new investments to make college more affordable, housing more accessible, and a law to protect the sensitive and personal information of Vermonters. I am running for re-election to continue this type of collaborative work.
3)I serve on the House Education Committee and have spent many hours reviewing our education finance system. We have a perennial debate about what constitutes an appropriate investment in public education. What’s clear is that our schools are an asset for our communities and learners, so long as we can demonstrate excellent student outcomes.
Like many parts of rural America, we face demographic headwinds in the Northeast that are impacting our schools and our workforce. I believe our classrooms will be part of the solution as we seek to train citizens and equip them with the skills to work and settle in Vermont, which will improve the affordability of our education system. We can demonstrate value to taxpayers by improving our career pathways system to create a pipeline to fill in-demand 21st century jobs and careers.