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Lincoln’s Jeanne Albert running for House

LINCOLN DEMOCRAT JEANNE Albert is a longtime educator and Lincoln School District leader who hopes to become one of two legislators representing Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton and Starksboro in the Vermont House.

LINCOLN — Lincoln’s Jeanne Albert isn’t afraid of putting in a ton of effort to scale new heights.

She is, after all, a “46er,” a badge of honor worn proudly by the relatively few who’ve ascended the 46 Adirondack Mountain peaks exceeding 4,000 feet.

Her hiking experience will come in handy as she takes on a brand-new challenge: campaigning in her first-ever run for a Vermont House of Representatives. Albert, 62, is a longtime math educator and Lincoln School District director who’s hoping to be among the top two finishers when votes are tallied in the Addison-4 House race this fall.

It’s looking like Albert will need to run the gauntlet of an Aug. 13 Democratic primary if she’s to advance to the Nov. 5 general election. Three Democrats have formally announced plans to run in the two-seat district representing the towns of Bristol, Starksboro, Lincoln and Monkton. They include incumbent Rep. Mari Cordes of Lincoln, Herb Olsen of Starksboro and Albert.

Incumbent Addison-4 Rep. Caleb Elder, D-Starksboro, recently announced he won’t seek re-election; instead, he’ll vie for one of the two state Senate seats representing Addison County, Huntington, Rochester and Buel’s Gore.

A GOP primary is also brewing in Addison-4.

As the Independent went to press, Republicans Chanin Hill of Bristol and Lynne Caulfield and Renee McGuiness — both of Monkton — were busy collecting petition signatures to get on the Aug. 13 primary ballot.

The top two finishers in each of the primaries will move on to the Nov. 5 contest, where they’ll square off in a field that could include additional independents or minor party candidates.

“It’s been on my radar for a while,” Albert said on Tuesday of her House run. 

She cited two reasons for the timing of her bid.

First, she believes it coincides with what’ll likely be major legislative scrutiny of Vermont’s education funding law during the next biennium. One-third of the state’s school budgets failed at the polls this past March amid taxpayers’ concerns about big education property tax increases.

Second, she’ll get to run in tandem with Cordes, a good friend and fellow Lincolnite. Albert helped with Cordes’s 2018 and 2020 House campaigns.

“The opportunity to run when Mari was still running, and when there was also an open seat, was attractive to me,” she said. “It provides us the opportunity to reconnect and think of ourselves as a team.”

Albert said she likely wouldn’t have run had Elder decided to seek re-election.

So who is Jeannie Albert?

She’s lived in Vermont for the past 37 years, the last seven of them in Lincoln.

Albert has always been a numbers person. During her 30-year teaching career, the Dartmouth College grad has taught math at her alma mater, Castleton State College and, most recently, at Middlebury College.

While at Castleton, she collaborated with members of the Education Department to design a new multi-disciplinary major for future elementary teachers, and also developed and taught courses for aspiring teachers that focused on environmental problem solving, interdisciplinary approaches to teaching, and of course, learning mathematics.

At Middlebury, she was the director of STEM and Quantitative Support for the college’s Center for Teaching, Learning and Research. She oversaw programs for students and faculty in mathematics, the sciences and social-science disciplines. Albert also led the institution’s Social Science peer tutoring program, designing and presenting professional development workshops for teachers across many disciplines.

Albert recently ramped back her work schedule. She continues to teach math part-time at Middlebury College and remains incredibly active in state and local civic pursuits.

One of her most high-profile civic contributions: Her recent service (2021-2022) on the Vermont Legislative Apportionment Board (LAB), a seven-member panel that crunched the most recent U.S. Census numbers to recommend changes to the state’s House and Senate districts, based on population changes during the prior 10 years. Albert’s proficiency in math and quantitative analysis made her a valuable player on the LAB.

The Legislature took the Apportionment Board’s work and, in some cases, created new House and Senate district boundaries. Several Addison County districts were altered, though the Addison-4 district remained intact.

Her LAB work required her to occasionally testify at the Statehouse, which she enjoyed doing. She returned there in 2023 to give input on a different issue: Lincoln’s bid to become an autonomous school district. It proved a successful effort, in part due to Albert’s ability to compute and analyze school finance numbers to aid Lincoln’s independence application. Albert currently chairs the Lincoln School District board.

“The Save Community Schools group that formed in Lincoln was a wonderful mix of people with different backgrounds and strengths,” she said. “I ended up learning a lot about the education finance system and helped with initial (Lincoln school) budgeting.”

LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

Her Apportionment Board and Lincoln school experiences whetted her appetite for an expanded role representing her community — as well the other three Addison-4 towns — in the Vermont House. She believes boosting the state’s housing stock, making healthcare more affordable, reforming the state’s education funding system and transitioning to green energy will be high on the General Assembly’s to-do list.

“I’ve been wondering what those conversations would be, and how I could be involved,” she said.

She believes her experiences solving problems at both the municipal and statewide levels make her a good fit for the Legislature.

“It’s helped me think about the role that state and local government play in people’s lives,” she said. “And because Vermont is such a small state, you can influence (how governmental actions) affect people’s lives.”

Albert said she continues to study up the issues that will shape her campaign. But she acknowledged being supportive of universal primary care, studying alternative funding options for education (including the income tax), and reducing some of the regulatory hoops for housing sited in town centers.

Albert would also like to see the state’s school systems apply for federal money to switch from diesel to electric school buses.

If elected, she vowed to put her math skills to good use and become an ardent supporter of schools.

“Education transforms people’s lives,” Albert said. “It’s a powerful field and an engine for democracy.”

The Independent will interview all challengers for local House and Senate races, and will also conduct candidate Q&A’s prior to the elections.

Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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