I have been hearing from concerned residents about Act 46 administrative mergers, both the proposed Wells/Middletown Springs union and what the future holds for Pawlet and Rupert. A common question is how I intend to represent all my constituents.
Good question. Middletown Springs and Wells are voting for choice, while Rupert and Pawlet are electing designation. Tinmouth already chose and enacted a merger with Mill River. Obviously I can’t choose either position or the other and still represent the majority of my constituents in all towns. So I stand by what I said in my campaign: these are community decisions, and that is what I support.
As a Middletown Springs resident and taxpayer, and as an individual, I support school choice for a number of reasons. However, representing Pawlet and Rupert I support the community’s decision to designate Salem and Granville (though the real questions appear to be not about designation or choice, but about how much tuition money will follow students if they choose to go somewhere else, and what may or may not happen to tax rates).
So what does “support the community’s decision” mean? It means that when I get a phone call or email from a constituent I will respond, as I do for anyone and everyone. When I get a specific request, for example, to make an email “introduction” between a constituent and a legislator, I will make that introduction. What I won’t do is introduce legislation that acts against ANY of the towns I represent. Nor will I actively advocate for choice in Pawlet and Rupert, because the community has already voted the other way. In that respect I have been a disappointment to the pro choice people, many of whom are friends – just as I have friends on the designation side.
As your State Representative I am walking a tightrope on this issue, as are many legislators whose various towns have chosen different and conflicting solutions to their problems. So my public support cannot be for “choice” or for “designation”. My support must be for a clear community process and the community’s decision.