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Sibilia to challenge Moran for Windham-Bennington seat

BRATTLEBORO—Laura Sibilia is working to add “state representative” to her extensive résumé in November.

Sibilia, who is running as an independent, announced her candidacy for the Windham-Bennington-1 district seat in the Vermont House in a letter emailed to The Commons on Monday.

The district includes the towns of Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, and Wardsboro. The seat is held today by Rep. John Moran, D-Wardsboro.

“As a result of having six of my family members serve in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, I’ve developed a deep belief in the need to expand civic participation in government,” Sibilia wrote in her letter.

The Dover resident is director of economic development with the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC), parent organization of Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS), and was executive director of the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce.

“In these roles, I have had an opportunity to see Vermont lawmakers often prioritize legislating national workplace issues over nurturing our own socially responsible small-business climate,” wrote Sibilia, “The unintended consequence of weakening businesses still struggling to pull out of the recession and recover from Tropical Storm Irene flooding is particularly noticeable in my district towns.”

During the legislators’ presentation portion of the Dover Annual Town Meeting on March 4, Sibilia stressed to Moran that raising Vermont’s minimum wage to $12 could hurt the state’s economy.

“It’s a national issue we’re taking a big position on — not what’s in Vermont’s best interest,” Sibilia said to Moran.

Sibilia also is vice-chair of the Dover School Board, on which she’s served since 2003.

“I’m a strong proponent of investing in high-quality, measurable education opportunities as well as an outspoken advocate for reforming Vermont’s current education and education finance systems,” Sibilia wrote. “Taxpayers have a right to know what result their state education property tax investment is yielding.”

Sibilia has lived in Dover for 14 years with her husband, T.J., daughters Stevie and Sammy, and son, Casey. She said she spent her childhood in Connecticut and Whitingham.

The eldest of 12 siblings, Sibilia graduated from Whitingham High School. She attended Champlain College in Burlington, and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, and holds a degree in hotel restaurant management.

Asked to comment on Sibilia’s challenge, Moran told The Commons, “It’s always a gain for the democratic process to have more than one candidate.”

Moran noted Sibilia’s experience in economic development, and added, “I look forward to her joining the economic discussion in our district.”

For his part, Moran said he plans to run for reelection but is waiting until after the legislative session to make his formal announcement.

He said he was too busy working on behalf of Windham County to campaign, a sentiment held by many legislators who wait until after the session wraps up to start political campaigning.

Sibilia said she plans to start campaigning in the district in early June. She did not respond to calls for an interview before press time.

In her letter, however, she concluded, “It is my intention to run a civil campaign and to not accept funds from any national or state organizations.”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #246 (Wednesday, March 19, 2014). This story appeared on page A1.

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