State Sens. Ayer and Bray unopposed for re-election

ADDISON COUNTY — Incumbent State Sens. Claire Ayer, D-Addison, and Christopher Bray, D-New Haven, are unopposed in their re-election bids for the two Senate seats representing Addison County, Huntington and Buel’s Gore.
That news became clear following the June 12 filing deadline for candidates vying for the Vermont Senate and many other offices.
There were no Republican entries for state Senate race, though Addison County Republican Committee leader Bryan Young did not rule out the prospect of some GOP candidates entering some county races as write-ins during the Aug. 26 primary.
While Ripton independent Robert Wagner’s Facebook page had listed him as a 2014 Senate hopeful, he confirmed by phone on Monday that he was going to “sit this one out.” Wagner had run unsuccessfully in each of the past two elections.
Ayer is seeking her sixth consecutive two-year term in the Senate. She currently serves as Senate majority whip and chairs both the Senate Health and Welfare and the Health Care Oversight committees. She also serves on the Senate Government Operations Committee.
Ayer and her health care committee are at the forefront of the state’s health care reform efforts. She expects the Legislature will have a great deal more work to do on the front during the coming biennium. State officials will have to decide, among other things, what a single-payer health care plan will cover and how it will be financed.
“There are a lot of different models,” Ayer said, citing various European and Canadian plans. “I am not wed to any particular model.”
Her personal priorities are that everybody pays for a comprehensive system.
Lawmakers will also have to take stock in the state’s energy options as well as its energy infrastructure, according to Ayer. She said Vermont Gas’s natural gas pipeline proposals have provided a reminder that Vermont should look more carefully at its energy future and how individual projects are evaluated.
Ayer cited the health of Lake Champlain as another legislative priority for 2015-2016. The state and federal Environmental Protection Agency have been jousting in recent months about the state progress (or lack thereof) in cleaning up the lake, an important water and tourism resource for the state.
“I don’t know why the state of Vermont thinks it can do the same (cleanup plan) each year and think it can get a better result,” she said.
Bray is seeking his second two-year term in the state’s highest chamber. He previously served four years in the House representing Addison-5 and ran unsuccessfully in 2010 for lieutenant governor.
Bray is confident he has successfully negotiated the learning curve after his first term in the Senate, when he served on the Finance, Agriculture, and Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs committees.
Some of Bray’s priorities for the 2015-2016 biennium will include making sure the state’s Farm to Plate program remains vital and healthy, boosting the state’s workforce education and training program, improving the water quality of Lake Champlain, addressing education finance reform, and promoting programs that will help Vermonters take better control of their energy future.
Conservation and energy efficiency, Bray noted, are the most cost-effective and efficient steps Vermonters can take in lowering their energy bills. At the same time, he recommends that the state invest more in weatherization and alternative energy systems.
“It is essential that we make the move from fossil fuels to renewables,” Bray said.
He and Ayer pledged to campaign even though they are running unopposed.
“If you’re not informed on how people are thinking and feeling, it’s hard to represent them,” Bray said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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