Meet your candidate: Amy Sheldon, Addison-1
HEALTH CARE: Providing health insurance to public employees under our current health care system is a major driver of our school and town budgets. It is also a drain on business and family budgets. By providing universally accessible health care that is not linked to your job, we will improve health care outcomes and retain and attract younger Vermonter’s, especially those with entrepreneurial desires. The Legislature needs to build trust among providers and the business community by sticking to the plan and thoroughly reviewing the governor’s financing plan to make sure that it is fiscally responsible and fair as we transition to single payer.
SCHOOL FUNDING: Vermonters are committed to high quality education for all of our students. There is a growing acknowledgement that the cost of maintaining the current system is not only a burden to many but it is also limiting opportunities for learning. Vermonters are ready to have a meaningful conversation about how to address declining enrollment and increasing costs. The Legislature needs to create a framework for a statewide conversation, beginning at the local level, on the best way to provide high quality opportunities and outcomes for students while sharing resources and consolidating expenditures where possible.
TRANSPARENCY: Openness, communication and accountability are the ingredients of a healthy democracy. Vermonters have a long history of identifying our challenges and working collectively to address them. We get stuck on issues where there is a disconnect between our words and our actions — often driven by people who have something to gain by the process going their way. Having people with too much invested in a particular outcome drive decisions does not foster an environment of transparency. As your legislator, I will always ask the tough questions and listen to all perspectives while weighing the merits of any proposal.
OPIATE ADDICTION: Gov. Shumlin used his State of the State address to identify the growing problem of opiate addiction. He and the Legislature acted quickly and decisively to educate Vermonters on the issue, map a plan of action and by the end of the session there were a number of changes implemented through legislation and the budget process that have improved the situation. They instituted a holistic approach to addressing opiate abuse and addiction. The process includes an iterative review and I look forward to being a part of that review and to helping ensure that we quantitatively define what success looks like.
HIGHER EDUCATION: For decades the path to prosperity in this country has been defined by the goal of completing a college degree. Many students who achieve the goal are finding it difficult to find good paying jobs that allow them to pay off the copious debts they have incurred in pursuit of their degree. We are increasingly aware that many of these students would have been better served to have gone to technical schools that were associated with training related to existing openings in the job market. Investing in career counseling early in a student’s education will help them and their families match their interests and skills with actual available jobs and help focus their resources on job related training. We need to invest in the state schools and Community College of Vermont, which offer flexible, affordable opportunities to get job training or to prepare students to finish their degrees at a four year institution.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Deep, broad economic prosperity will come to us if we confidently invest in who we are and not try to repeat what others have done in other parts of the state or country. By nurturing businesses that are here and fostering creative entrepreneurs who see our potential, we will build a solid, sustainable economy based on our healthy environment and quality of life. It’s time for us to have an open, transparent, community discussion to define our collective vision for our local economy and then develop a plan of action with measurable goals to implement that plan.
We are uniquely situated to be a sustainable community: one that promotes the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. We can provide technical assistance and direct business coaching to businesses that are committed to sustainable practices. As your legislator, I will support economic development initiatives that capitalize on the triple bottom line.
CANDIDATE’S CHOICE: Climate change is impacting many aspects of our society — from transportation infrastructure, to affordable housing and agriculture, we need to plan ahead and prepare to the best of our ability to avoid future losses. As a member of the Vermont House, I won’t get to choose which committee I serve on but I will bring my depth and breadth of experience and awareness of the issues to face our challenges straight on and help us move confidently and competently forward to a healthy sustainable future.
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