Ferrisburgh lawyer launches campaign for House seat

MIDDLEBURY — Ferrisburgh Democrat and longtime attorney Fritz Langrock hopes to make the leap from the Addison County courthouse to the Vermont Statehouse come next January.
To that end, he has joined a cast of four candidates who will compete this November for the two Addison-3 House seats representing Addison, Ferrisburgh, Panton, Vergennes and Waltham. Also running are Ferrisburgh Republican Monique Thurston and incumbent Reps. Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes, and Warren Van Wyck, R-Ferrisburgh.
Langrock, 53, grew up in Salisbury and graduated from Middlebury Union High School in 1981. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago, then went on to law school at UCLA. Langrock practiced law in Chicago at the firm of Winston & Strawn for four years, by which time he and his wife, Adela — pregnant with twins — were ready to move back to Vermont.
They found a nice home in Ferrisburgh in 1992. And Langrock found a nice professional landing spot at the law firm that bears his family name — Langrock, Sperry & Wool. His father, attorney Peter Langrock, founded the firm back in 1960.
Fritz Langrock has a general practice representing clients on a wide array of matters, ranging from traffic ticket appeals to criminal defense cases. He is currently the Vermont State Delegate to the American Bar Association House of Delegates, and is a member of the Vermont Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.
When Langrock is not at the office or at home, he can often be found at a hockey rink. He is a former president of the Vermont State Amateur Hockey Association, and was a director of USA Hockey.
While he’s had an interest in running for the House for several years, Langrock has held back on a run — until now — due to professional, family and health reasons. Former colleague Beth Robinson — now a Vermont Supreme Court justice — originally encouraged him to throw his hat into the House ring more than a decade ago.
“A number of years ago, I considered (running) when Beth Robinson was working hard on lobbying hard for same-sex marriage,” Langrock recalled. “She approached me, but it wasn’t the right time in my life — with kids and work. But it’s always something I have thought about since then.”
His political plans were again put on hold two years ago when he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Thanks to a timely diagnosis and successful treatment, Langrock is back at full speed and ready to campaign in Addison-3.
“I’m feeling good and looking for ways to give back,” Langrock said.
He believes he has the experience to be an asset in the House on several fronts, including in judiciary and health care matters.
“Access to justice issues are really very important to me,” he said. “Figuring out ways for people to get to court — to get through court — affordably, with lawyers, when they need them.”
Being a cancer survivor, Langrock has a keen interest in health care.
“Costs, quality, access and making sure people get the health care they need are all important to me,” he said. “Also, providing education and information. I was lucky that I had my colonoscopy when I was 50.”
Langrock said he’s keeping his mind open on plans to make health care services better and more affordable.
“I’m not a true believer in any single solution,” he said. “I’m open to listening to proposals, with a goal of getting — as close as possible — to universal coverage and universal access. Figuring out how to pay for it is the big problem.”
As a lawyer, Langrock has dealt with many legal issues relating to land use planning, zoning and Act 250. He has been following with interest the statewide debate on renewable energy development and where such projects can and should be sited. The Legislature met in special session last Thursday to pass a solar siting bill (and Gov. Shumlin signed it into law on Monday) that provides more local control over such projects to communities that pass energy plans that are compatible with state green energy goals.
“I am in favor of more local control over siting, but also with the idea it is not a bar to (such projects),” Langrock said. “I think the folks who live near these things should have a bigger say … But alternatives to fossil fuels are important.”
Langrock also noted the Legislature’s consideration of a bill this past session that would have legalized possession of small quantities of marijuana.
“In general, I am sympathetic with the idea of legalizing marijuana,” Langrock said. “I think the resources we have been using to battle marijuana are better spent on treatment and education. I think there has been a lot of damage done in making recreational use of marijuana a crime.”
That said, Langrock believes any pot legalization law should be done in a measured fashion. He noted the public safety community’s concerns about the potential for more impaired drivers on the road, and the lack of a solid tool for measuring that level of impairment.
“It isn’t just a simple thing to say everyone should be able to smoke it anytime, anywhere,” Langrock said. “Figuring out how to deal with it is complicated, but I am generally pro-legalization.”
Langrock believes Vermont could learn from a Gloucester, Mass., policy of not arresting those addicted to drugs, and instead finding them beds at and referring them to treatment facilities.
“They will prosecute dealers and distributors, but not users,” Langrock said.
If elected, Langrock said he would be open to any committee assignment. He plans to do a lot of campaigning with Lanpher, and do some door-to-door throughout the district. He also plans to create a campaign website. He said he wants to get a sense of voters’ priorities and also give them a sense of his potential as a lawmaker.
“My strengths as a candidate are that I am thoughtful, pretty deliberate and am not a flame-thrower — I work hard to build consensus and work with people,” Langrock said. “I also try to listen.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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