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Bristol Republican in race for county’s two Senate seats

BRISTOL — Lynn Dike has technically been a “senator” since she was a teenager. Now 65, she still proudly claims the moniker as an alum of Ralph C. Mahar Regional High School in Orange, Mass., whose sports teams bear the “Senators” nickname.
The Bristol Republican now wants to give more literal significance to what has been a fun scholastic title. Dike is seeking this fall to become one of two state senators representing Addison County, Huntington and Buel’s Gore. She joins a field that includes fellow Republican Peter Briggs of Addison and incumbent Sens. Claire Ayer, D-Addison, and Chris Bray, D-New Haven.
This is Dike’s first foray into politics during a fruitful life that has featured a lot of early travel as a military spouse, followed by a lengthy career in the health care industry as a nurse at Helen Porter Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center in Middlebury.
She said she’s running for the state Senate because she wants to bring more “balance” to a state governing body that has been numerically tilted in favor of Democrats in recent years. The result, she believes, has been a lot of hastily considered legislation that has not benefited most Vermonters. Dike cited this year’s marijuana legalization bill as an example of proposal that she believes was processed too quickly. The bill — which would have legalized possession of small amounts of recreational marijuana — passed the Senate, but not the House.
“I’m not for it or against it, but I think they need to slow down and think,” Dike said of the marijuana bill. “There was no emergency with this bill.”
Showing more legislative restraint and opposing bills that take away — or limit — people’s rights are perhaps the two biggest planks in Dike’s campaign, which she is waging under the credo, “Enough is enough.”
Lynn Dike was born in Massachusetts, though her family’s roots run deepest in the Swanton, Vt., area, she noted during a June 2 interview with the Independent.
After graduating from high school, Dike enrolled at Lyndon State College with the goal of becoming a classroom teacher. She decided, after a year, that she wasn’t suited to that profession, and turned her attention to nursing. It was at around this time that she met her first husband, who was in the military. The couple and their three children hopped around various military installations from Kansas to Okinawa, Japan, before settling in the Norwich, Vt., area during the late 1980s.
Dike’s husband worked at Norwich Academy for a short while, then retired from the service. Difficulties in the subsequent readjustment to civilian life regrettably led to a dissolving of the marriage, recalled Dike, who remained in Vermont.
It was during a square dance in Montpelier a short time later that Dike met her current husband, Lloyd Dike. They immediately hit it off and married in 1992. Lloyd Dike was a longtime rural mail carrier in the five-town area, so they settled in Bristol after tying the knot.
Dike landed a job at Helen Porter, where her tasks have included patient care, administrative chores and serving as a charge nurse. Her favorite assignment has been working with patients suffering with memory loss diseases. Dike remains on the nursing home’s list of per diem workers, but has only worked there sporadically in recent years. She now works part-time for the Red Cross, dispensing tests to aspiring Licensed Nurse Assistants (LNAs).
“I’m the last stop in their journey to becoming a nurse’s aide,” Dike said with a smile.
As someone directly involved in the health care industry, Dike has some opinions on how the state should proceed with health care reform. She believes the state should abandon the trouble-plagued Vermont Health Connect, and instead join the federal health insurance exchange.
Dike also believes any state health reform efforts should only apply to the uninsured or under-insured, while leaving alone those who currently have private insurance. She is concerned about the state adopting any health care reforms that might require everyone in the state to switch to a certain insurance plan.
American citizens, she fears, are generally not vigilant enough about what is going on in state government.
“We need someone to be watching for us,” Dike said. “Right now, we don’t know what’s going on, and when we find out, it’s too late.”
Dike would like to be one of those “watchers” as a state senator. She came to that conclusion on May 21 — just five days before the candidates’ filing deadline — while attending the Vermont Republican State Convention in Burlington. She said she became inspired by some of the party faithful’s speeches on what it takes to be a good candidate. She compared her own qualifications to those recited by GOP officials and decided she should run for state Senate.
She ran the idea by her husband.
“He sat and thought about it for around 10 seconds and said, ‘Go for it,’” Dike said.
With help, the couple gathered the requisite signatures to get her name on the election ballot. Dike will now spend the summer campaigning by herself and with Briggs, who she called intelligent and energetic. She knows she has her work cut out for herself as a new face on the political scene going up against veteran incumbents like Ayer and Bray.
“I am no one in the political world, but I am someone,” she said, adding she is most proud of her title as grandmother to six grandchildren.
Dike said she’ll flesh out positions on more issues as her campaign progresses. At this point, she:
•  Opposes the concept of a carbon tax on fossil fuels to encourage a transition to renewable energy.
•  Believes there should be changes to the Section 248 review process through which renewable energy projects are decided by the three-person Vermont Public Service Board. Dike believes communities should have more of a say in the siting of those projects and how much noise they are allowed to emit.
•  Wants to pass more “business-friendly” laws. Dike said that while the state’s recently passed minimum wage and paid sick leave bills were good for workers, she is concerned about their financial impact on employers.
“(The Legislature) has done nothing to help businesses pay for these things,” Dike said.
•  Wants to support initiatives that will encourage young Vermonters to stay and raise their families in-state.
•  Would like to see the state strengthen its vocational and technical education programs, and encourage high schools to offer a sampling of such programs in-house. Dike is concerned that some of the current tech-ed students are “spending more time on the bus than they are in class.”
But when it comes down to it, Dike said, she’d like to be part of a Legislature that has different priorities.
“People are more important than money,” she said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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