Letter to the editor: It’s time to elect Harlin to Addison-2 House seat

I recently had the privilege of having a nice long conversation with Wendy Harlin in my back yard. She is running for the Vermont House Addison-2 seat representing my hometown of Cornwall along with Goshen, Leicester, Ripton and Salisbury. She is the challenger in this year’s Democratic primary race, which will be decided on Tuesday, August 9th. Upon exploring both candidates’ campaign sites and knowing Peter Conlon’s recent history on the ACSD school board, much of it as the chair, I confirmed my initial feeling that Wendy is the person for the job moving forward.

While both candidates agree on most issues, there is one where their paths diverge greatly. The incumbent is poised to take a strong leadership role in the House Committee on Education and continues to strongly support Act 46 school/district consolidation efforts. He has also pushed for several of our smaller ACSD schools to someday be closed as part of these efforts.

On the other hand, Wendy realizes that these schools are an important, integral part of the fabric that makes our communities, locally on up through the state level, so viable and connected. Her goal is to provide a safe and equitable education system in our state that supports pre-K through grade 12 and beyond while better balancing how we pay for said education. She wants to better include teachers and parents in conversations about how best to address “current education challenges” and better support both educators and students. She feels this can be done while “helping our small, rural towns impacted by school consolidations under Act 46, to maintain the autonomy of their local schools (should they choose to) while striving for equitable school funding.”

She also wants to improve access to alternative education options like dual enrollment, vocational training, and work-study options that train students for the workforce in well-paying careers with current and future high growth demand, while also finding ways to provide affordable options for in-state college education.

I have previously gone on the record as being somewhere between these two views. However, I feel Wendy’s is the more viable vision for our future and keeping small communities relevant. There may need to be some very creative thinking and I suspect not all schools will survive, but Wendy will work to minimize such losses.

I cannot confer with them, but I believe my parents moved to Vermont about 45 years ago to start a family after spending their whole lives in city settings because of the slower and more relaxed setting that much of our state continues to provide. Wendy seems to be of the same ilk. I worry that will be irreparably changed if we don’t find a way to better run and support our schools than the path we are currently on.

For these reasons, in addition to all of her other views, I intend to vote for Wendy in this primary election and hope to be part of sending her to the state Legislature on Tuesday, November 8. I hope you will join me in this effort. If you haven’t voted yet and want more information about Wendy Harlin you can visit her campaign site at wendyharlin.com

All this being said, I do respect and thank Peter Conlon for his many years of committed service to and in support of our communities. Our views of what the state’s future should look like are just a bit different.

Ian Ross


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