Whiting to host debate for pair in House race

WHITING — With Labor Day past the local election scene is kicking into high gear. In one of the first debates of the fall, the candidates vying for the Vermont House seat representing Whiting, Shoreham, Orwell and Benson will square off in Whiting.
Incumbent Rep. Terry Norris, an Independent from Shoreham, and Barb Wilson, a Shoreham Democrat, are candidates for the Addison-Rutland legislative seat. They will debate at Whiting Town Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 6:30-7:45 p.m.
The moderated event will focus on four general topics:  Poverty and Economic Development, the Opioid Epidemic, Health Care, and Regulatory Issues (with particular emphasis Environment and Safety).  
Norris, a former farmer, was appointed by Gov. Phil Scott to the Addison-Rutland House seat when Rep. Alyson Eastman, an Orwell independent, stepped down to take up the post of deputy secretary of agriculture in the Scott Administration.
Norris co-owned and operated a 1,250-acre dairy farm in Shoreham for nearly 40 years, and also operated his own photography business for 23 years. A native Vermonter, he has resided in Shoreham since 1960. Norris holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Tri-State University in Angola, Ind.
At the time he was appointed, Norris told this newspaper that he identified himself as an independent, but agreed with Scott, a Republican, on most issues. This past June he voted to sustain Gov. Scott’s veto of the state budget.
During the past biennium he served on the House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry.
According to the Vermont General Assembly website, Norris has sponsored or co-sponsored 62 bills and resolutions since he came to the Legislature.
Wilson grew up on a dairy farm in Portland, Mich., and, after earning a mathematics degree from Michigan State University, worked for more than 35 years as a business analyst for Bell System and its successor .
She and husband George Gross moved to Shoreham in 2008 and started the Solar Berry Farm, which, incidentally, is located only a little more than a mile away from Norris’s residence. The business turns berries into jams and chutneys and employs a few part-time workers. Running a business gave Wilson first-hand knowledge of the challenges facing employers and employees, meeting a payroll, health insurance and marketing.
Wilson in 2016 became involved with Rights & Democracy, a non-profit group operating in New Hampshire and Vermont that is rallying people behind such causes as a livable wage, access to affordable health care, racial justice and an “equitable” tax system.
The Whiting event will include two moderators. It is sponsored by the town of Whiting The public is invited to attend.

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