As a supporter of Tristan Toleno for state representative in District 3, I was taken aback when I heard that Gov. Peter Shumlin had endorsed Kate O’Connor in the race.
There is an unwritten rule that governors and other officeholders and party officials do not intervene in local races, and the governor acknowledged he was breaking that rule.
The WTSA radio tape of the endorsement indicates that the reason for the governor’s endorsement was a personal one: she has been a helpful supporter and aide.
As I reflected further, however, I realized that the endorsement reinforced my support of Tristan and provided a good illustration of a major difference between Tristan and Kate, a difference that is crucial to this race.
The role of the District 3 rep is primarily local: it needs someone who knows the local community and understands what are the impacts on the community of the state policies and appropriations the Legislature deals with.
Tristan’s experience has been, and is, here in Brattleboro, where he has lived and been involved all his life. He has an MBA from Marlboro in managing sustainable economies. He helped create the Vermont Fresh Network and led it for several years.
Through his work as a chef, caterer, and restauranteur, he has been involved in creating more than 400 local jobs and in purchasing local food and produce.
He is a recognized leader in building partnerships among farms, schools, and eating establishments in our area. He has worked with the schools as an active parent and in providing food and cooking instruction.
He is a Town Meeting representative in District 3, and he has served on the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce board, the Citizen Police Communications Committee, the Strolling of the Heifers Committee, and other organizations.
By contrast, Kate’s primary experience has been in the state and national political world. She has been away from the community for a long time, and returned only a little over a year ago.
We need a strong and independent advocate who knows Brattleboro and is accountable only to Brattleboro. I urge you to vote for Tristan Toleno in the Democratic primary on Aug. 28.
Veronica Johnson, Brattleboro
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