VERNON—Being a write-in candidate for a political campaign is almost always difficult.
Fortunately for Patrick Gilligan of Vernon, he was virtually assured of winning the Republican nomination in the Aug. 14 primary for the Windham-1 House that is being vacated by retiring Republican incumbent Mike Hebert.
That’s because there was no one else running.
Gilligan received a total of 67 write-in votes to win the Republican nomination. He now will face another political newcomer — Sara Coffey of Guilford, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary — in the Nov. 6 general election to decide who will represent Guilford and Vernon in the Legislature.
Gilligan, 23, is a 2013 graduate of Brattleboro Union High School and a 2017 graduate of Castleton University. He is planning to go to law school next year. He was a standout cross-country runner for BUHS and Castleton and currently works as a laborer/carpenter for his family’s real estate company.
So why was Gilligan running as a write-in candidate? “I had to make my decision based on my LSAT score which I took shortly before the filing deadline,” he said. “Otherwise, I would have announced earlier and had my signatures so I wouldn’t be a write-in candidate.”
He passed his LSATs, so he hopes to be both a freshman lawmaker as well as a first-year law student in 2019.
Gilligan said he chose to run because “I believe people think it’s time for new leadership and new ideas up in Montpelier and that it’s time for a new generation of Vermonters to embrace this call.”
In a recent letter to The Commons, Hebert lent his support to Gilligan, calling him “a bright, articulate, considerate, and honest young man with the drive and dedication to represent our communities effectively.”
On his official campaign page on Facebook, Gilligan writes, “my campaign and my purpose in Montpelier will be to move Vermont forward in a way which we as a society allow more freedom of association, equal opportunity, advocate for more local control of our communities, expand our individual freedoms, and lower taxes.”
And he is unambiguous about where he stands on the issues.
He wants to abolish the state income tax, as well as the state tax on pension payments, military retirement pay, and Social Security. He also wants to eliminate the state inheritance tax and put a freeze on any property tax increase.
Doing these things would put more money into people’s pockets, he said, which in turn would be spent in the local economy.
And, on the issue that many in Vernon care about most right now, Gilligan supports the sale of Vermont Yankee to North Star for an accelerated decommissioning of the former nuclear plant. He also supports the construction of a natural-gas fueled electrical generation plant at the former VY site.
“Whatever the town of Vernon wants me to do to make sure their wishes are met, I’ll do whatever needs to be done in Montpelier to make those wishes come true,” he said.
Gilligan said he will be as supportive of Vernon voters’ concerns as he would be for their counterparts in Guilford. He gave as an example Act 46, the state’s school consolidation law.
He says it is an issue that affects both towns and he is opposed to Act 46 or any other “one-size-fits-all” remedy for school reform. He also supports the school-choice options that Vernon families enjoy for all families in Vermont.
While he opposes requiring people to buy health insurance, Gilligan supports price caps on health insurance and medication to prevent insurance and drug companies from “jacking up prices whenever they feel like it.”
As for the gun control legislation passed by the Legislature this year, he supports background checks for firearms sales and for making it easier to seize weapons from someone deemed an “extreme risk” by authorities.
At the same time, he opposes raising the legal age for buying a firearm from 18 to 21, and supports the state laws regarding concealed and open carry of firearms.