NEWFANE—State Rep. Richard Marek, D- Newfane, announced Tuesday that he will not be a candidate for re-election from the Windham–5 district where he represents the towns of Marlboro, Newfane and Townshend.
He was first elected in 2002, making him the third longest serving current House member from Windham County.
“Discovering last summer that I now have served longer than anyone else in the history of my town or this district, as well as realizing that first graders when I first ran now may be entering college, certainly helped in my decision,” Marek said in a news release.
“The opportunity to represent people in making complex decisions which will significantly affect their lives is one of the greatest gifts of trust the voters can give someone. I’m truly grateful for that and have tried to honor it in my work, even though I couldn’t always agree with every constituent on every issue,” he added.
At least one candidate is lined up for Marek’s seat. Emily Long, a Democrat from Newfane, announced her candidacy on Tuesday. Long serves as chair of the Leland & Gray High School Board.
June 12 is the last day for candidates to file petitions for the Aug. 26 party primaries.
A full career
During his 12 years in the House, Marek served in several roles.
On the House Judiciary Committee, he worked on many significant and controversial policy issues including modifications to Act 250, restructuring Vermont’s judiciary; passing marriage equality legislation; creating bans on texting and hand-held cell phones while driving; landmark GMO labeling requirements; addressing the impacts of opiate addiction; and working to reduce prison populations through better sentencing alternatives.
Marek chaired the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules, a committee that meets year-round and serves as the final legislative check to ensure that all proposed agency and departmental rules from the executive branch are consistent with statutory intent, have had proper public input, and are not arbitrary. Once they are approved, rules enjoy the force of law.
Marek says he plans to continue serving as vice president of both the Vermont and Windham County historical societies. He also is a trustee of Newfane Village, and a justice of the peace.
Previously, after retiring as an attorney, he chaired the Newfane Selectboard, was a Moore Free Library trustee, and was a volunteer EMT with NewBrook Rescue.
“The Vermont House has been a self-renewing body ever since it first met in 1778. It’s been a privilege to play a small part in that long history before now making way for another to serve there,” Marek said.
“I think my successor may find, just as I did, that legislating in Montpelier has much more in common with the challenge of working a Rubik’s Cube than it does with the simplicity of using a ruler. However, they also will find in our House a model of mutual civility, thoughtfulness in work, and decency of aims that many other bodies around the country would benefit from emulating,” he added.
Long ‘ready to go’
Emily Long was born in Townshend and grew up in Newfane. After living for a time in East Burke and Dummerston, she moved back to Newfane 23 years ago with her husband, John. They have two adult children, Benjamin and Emma, who also both live and work in Vermont.
Long said in her statement announcing her candidacy that she sees health care reform and education as the two greatest issues facing the Legislature.
“I made the choice to reside here because I believe this is a wonderful area to live and raise a family,” she said. “If elected, I am eager to apply my skills in order to expand Vermont’s economy and grow jobs, protect our environment, support sustainable energy and provide affordable health care for all Vermonters.”
Long has held public office for 20 years, first on the Newfane School Board and for the past 14 years on the LGUHS Board. She is also president of the Vermont School Boards Association.
She said that she hadn’t seriously considered running for the Legislature until Marek decided he wasn’t going to seek a seventh term.
“Dick has dedicated himself to serving our communities with skill and integrity, and while he leaves big shoes to fill, I believe I have the background needed to do the job,” said Long. “If I am elected, I will devote myself to being an effective representative for our communities.”
Marek has already expressed support for Long’s candidacy.
“I can’t think of anyone who could more thoughtfully represent this district and its strong values in the House,” he said. “Emily already has shown a rare dedication to serving our community over many years in so many different roles. Now, her same demonstrated intelligence and openness to listening to all perspectives will serve our district with real distinction if we choose her as our newest representative in Montpelier.”