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State Rep. Mike Hebert, R-Vernon, will not seek a fifth term in the Legislature this fall.

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Hebert won’t seek fifth term in Statehouse

A family illness prompts the Vernon Republican state representative’s decision to retire

VERNON—Mike Hebert, who has represented Vernon and Guilford in the Vermont House of Representatives since 2011, announced last week that he will not seek re-election this November.

In a letter he sent to his constituents, the 67-year-old Vernon Republican said health concerns played a big part in the decision to not run for a fifth term in the Legislature.

“As many of you know, not long ago I was critically ill, and if not for the love, support, and care of my extraordinary wife Debbie, I would not be here today,” Hebert wrote. “Deb retired this past July and unfortunately was diagnosed with cancer shortly before Christmas. This significantly changed our plans as to when I would retire.“

Hebert said his wife’s “courage, faith, and positive attitude will not only provide her with a victory in this fight; it will strengthen me in my ability to support and care for her. We know we will win this new campaign, move on to our plans for retirement, live together full-time, year-round, and enjoy some date nights along the way.”

A member of the House Health Care Committee, Hebert is the only Republican in the Windham County legislative delegation. He was elected to his first term in the House in 2010, after the retirement of fellow Vernon resident Patty O’Donnell.

Hebert has also served for several years on the Vernon School Board.

Friendships across the aisle

Being in the minority didn’t faze Hebert.

“While representing you these past four terms. I have developed some warm friendships with people with vastly differing views than mine politically,” Hebert wrote.

“However, we found we shared the common goals of moving our towns forward, providing our children with educational opportunities best suited to their individual needs, to a healthy environment and many other things. Through these common goals, we found common ground. I will always be grateful for this blessing.”

Some of the accomplishments Hebert said he was proudest of were preserving Sweet Pond in Guilford, helping to stabilize Vernon’s town finances in the post-Vermont Yankee era, and preserving school choice for Vernon residents.

“Whether working on broad community issues of great impact that take enormous effort by testifying in various committees,” he wrote, “... or making a few phone calls to resolve a problem dealing with issues of healthcare, education, taxes or simply helping you to navigate the complexities that are our state government, serving you has been one of my life’s greatest honors and pleasures.”

Hebert said that, in his post-Montpelier life, he hopes to “continue to serve our communities in any way I can.”

One candidate, so far

There is at least one candidate who will soon announce she is running for Hebert’s Windham-1 seat.

Sara Coffey of Guilford, founder and director of the Vermont Performance Lab, has been raising money for a campaign for the past several months and has about $10,000 in her campaign fund as of mid-March, according to the state Secretary of State’s office.

Coffey told The Commons her campaign “is not a secret,” and that she plans to make a formal announcement later this month. She is a 2018 graduate of Emerge Vermont, a training program that prepares women to run as Democratic candidates for public office.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #453 (Wednesday, April 4, 2018). This story appeared on page A1.

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