The table we set for future generations must seat everyone

BELLOWS FALLS — When I step out onto my porch each day and breathe in the air constantly being renewed by the mighty Connecticut River, I am humbled.

Such beauty and history and power. It's reflected in everything we do here. The independent backbone of all who settled this state and of those who live and are raised here. The active muscle of optimism.

It's why, when my husband wanted to return to the place that raised him, I made a conscious decision to settle my home, my family, and my business in southern Vermont, particularly in the village of Bellows Falls.

This is not a one-size-fits-all state. It deserves forward-thinking, passionate elected officials in every district and at every level of government who will continue to make the best well-informed choices to serve the unique identity of Vermont.

We already have agriculture and industry in place, job creators in place, and innovative, exceptional, and creative thinkers shouting to be heard over the din of future-economic-development prophets.

Expand on our current business model. Provide funding programs to grow and encourage these existing Vermont job creators. Support those who are providing job growth right now.

By definition, economic development refers to the adoption of new technologies, a transition away from agriculture-based to industry-based economy, and general improvement in living standards.

New technology, in balance, is needed, but not at the expense of existing businesses and the hard-working Vermonters they employ. The table we set for future generations must contain seats for everyone. There is room for co-existence.

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As I turned in my petition to run as an independent for one of the two seats in the Windham-3 district as state representative, I thought about what I could bring to Montpelier's House.

As a small-business owner, I know that new revenue streams cannot be borne only on the backs of Vermont's small businesses, which comprise 60 percent of all Vermont enterprises.

Tax breaks for large business only, to encourage retention, do not benefit the majority of Vermont's employees. Mom-and-pop establishments are leaving the state - and with them, their children and the future of Vermont - without the consideration of legislators and their support.

I was not always a business owner. My family was determined to change our collective outcome with hard work and resolve. I know and understand poverty and homelessness, firsthand. Social programs work only when they provide the skills necessary for self-reliance.

Only determination from within oneself, combined with a hand-up, not a handout, will provide the basis for a road out of poverty.

Many national programs have demonstrated the worth of this approach, including New York City and its “work for housing” programs. The dynamic in Vermont needs to change, for both the giver and the recipient. Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.

Lastly, I want my children, grandchildren and their children, ad infinitum, to succeed in Vermont. To love it here, as I do. That can come only from those of us still willing to do the hard work, to speak out, to reimagine the ways we spend our tax dollars, to reduce redundancies in programs, to prize our Vermont education system and to expect it to inspire our children to step out into the world ready to grow a life as vibrant as the state they inhabit.

I am hard working, unafraid to speak out on issues, maintain high expectations for our state, and remain optimistic that it can be done. That's why I am running. These are qualities I want for all my elected officials. I hope you do too.

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