Rep. Van Wyck won’t run for another term

FERRISBURGH — Rep. Warren Van Wyck, R-Ferrisburgh, won’t seek re-election to a fourth consecutive, two-year term representing Addison-3 in the House, citing a desire to spend more time with family and return to full-time status at his job as a computer analyst programmer with the University of Vermont.
Van Wyck, 65, informed the House Republican caucus of his decision late last week. He relayed the message to his constituents through a May 10 statement on his Facebook account. The two-seat Addison-3 district includes the towns of Addison, Ferrisburgh, Panton, Vergennes and Waltham.
“During my time as a representative, I have stressed the importance of public safety, advocated publicly and voted for a more affordable Vermont, no new taxes, limited government, business development, reasonable regulations for business and agriculture, and support for the vulnerable,” Van Wyck wrote in his farewell statement. “In helping many constituents navigate state government services, I have been pleased to meet many of you. Please feel free to contact me until the end of my term in December.
“A special thanks to those who have supported me and my work in Montpelier over the years,” he added.
Van Wyck joined the House in dramatic and unexpected fashion. Then Gov. Peter Shumlin appointed Van Wyck to an Addison-3 vacancy created by the tragic death of incumbent Rep. Greg Clark, R-Vergennes, on Nov. 30, 2012. Van Wyck was re-elected in his own right during the 2014 and 2016 elections. His district-mate throughout his tenure has been Rep. Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes.
He spent his first term serving on the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs. House leaders then transferred him to the Committee on Energy and Technology, which has allowed him to share his tech skills and his strong views on both renewable and conventional energy.
Van Wyck has picked up additional assignments during his time in the Statehouse, serving on the Joint Energy Committee, the Vermont Web Portal Board, the Canvassing Committee and the Legislative Information Technology Committee, for which he served as vice chair in 2016.
“It’s been a commitment — not only for me, but for my wife,” Van Wyck said during a Monday phone interview of the work in Montpelier.
He officially took Clark’s place back on Feb. 7, 2013.
“The number one thing I went in there for was to follow up on the principles that Rep. Clark stood for, and I believe I fulfilled that,” Van Wyck said. “I believe I was a voice for limited government, business development, core Republican principles… and serving any constituent in the district who might have an issue with state government.”
Some of those constituent concerns have involved Act 250, Vermont’s land use development act passed into law in 1970.
“That continues to be troublesome for people who want to do business development,” Van Wyck said of the law.
He lamented the significant numerical majority Democrats enjoy in the Vermont House, a fact he said has prevented the GOP from fulfilling much of its legislative agenda. Van Wyck is pleased however that Republican numbers in the House have increased to the point where Democrats no longer enjoy a veto-proof majority on bills that fail to win Gov. Phil Scott’s signature.
House Democrats currently hold an edge of 83 members to 53 for the GOP, with seven Progressives and seven independents.
Still, Van Wyck enjoyed a few successes during his tenure. He was a lead sponsor four years ago of H.555, which paved the way for criminal defendants with traumatic brain injuries to be committed to Vermont Department of Health care if they are deemed incompetent to stand trial. Prior to passage of the new law, suspects with TBI could be set free if judged incompetent to stand trial.
“They don’t just get a ‘get out of jail free card,’” Van Wyck said of the law.
When it came to votes on the House floor, Van Wyck wasn’t shy about parting ways with Democrats — or even his Republican colleagues.
For example, in 2014, Van Wyck was among just three House members to vote against a bill mandating that all law enforcement officers collect data about the race of people they pull over. The bill, S.184, passed on a vote of 138-3. Van Wyck explained at the time he voted “no” due to what he said were “invasive reporting requirements” in the bill.
In 2015, Van Wyck cast the lone dissenting vote (119-1) on a House resolution opposing Indiana’s controversial “religious freedom law.” Prior to an ensuing amendment to that measure OK’d by the Indiana state legislature, the law was interpreted as allowing Indiana business owners to deny service to gay and lesbian citizens. Van Wyck at the time explained his vote thusly: “Vermont has plenty of challenges within its borders. I am not interested in passing judgments on the actions of the legislatures of the other 49 states unless they directly affect the substantive well-being of the state of Vermont and its residents.”
Van Wyck believes his votes were consistent with the views and principles he shared during his campaigns.
“Sometimes it’s been a bit lonely, but I think there’s a principle there I wasn’t willing to compromise,” he said.
The Van Wycks are now looking forward to taking their first real vacation in six years. Rep. Van Wyck has no regrets about his legislative career.
“It’s about the people in the community,” he said of his main reason for running. “I was there to serve, and I enjoyed doing that.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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