We should be ashamed of what our paid elected officials have done

BRATTLEBORO — When my mom passed away in March, it forced to me to revisit the idea of how precious and fragile life is.

As we gather once again to elect new officials into office, please keep her in mind. She was a decent, kind woman who knitted hats and mittens for kids who didn't have them in our schools. She gave service at the PTA. She taught us to give back, in whatever way we could, to help better the world.

It's not about how much money you have in the bank. It's about knowing that those who have little need more help. It's not about homelessness. It's about finding homes for people who have none. It's not about being food insecure, it's about finding food for those who in our own community are starving. Food, shelter, and the ability to sustain life is what it's about.

When I hear of senior citizens who don't have enough food and are forced to go to food pantries so they have something to eat, it bothers me.

When I see homeless people on our streets, it hurts me.

When my own son told me about seven teenagers who were living under a bridge, I opened my doors and let them stay with us, safe, so they could shower and have a warm place and something to eat.

It's time to realize we can no longer allow our people to live like animals camping out in our woods, under bridges. The fact is, 46,000 children (and their parents) are hungry, and it's beyond a problem - it's an epidemic.

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I have always marveled at how politicians can say one thing and do another. It's time to realize that actions do speak louder than words. I have purposely stayed out of the media coverage. Imagine that: going directly to the people, appearing to address issues that I feel are important.

This is not a popularity contest. It's about who can do the most to help you thrive. It's about who can see a future where seniors are secure in keeping their homes in a state where taxes are exceeding the average person's ability to pay them.

I would like to initiate monthly conversations in each town, perhaps over lunch, where we can sit down and talk about issues that we feel are important. This would open up the opportunity to talk, not in a town meeting setting but in a conversation, and facilitate change to help you thrive.

We are losing great people to other states because they are aware that our health-care system is unstable, and it is a critical part of living. Forbes identified that Atlas Van Lines moved more Vermonters out of state in 2013 than they did residents of any other other state in the U.S.A. I've never seen this happen in my lifetime.

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I encourage you to find a candidate going into the 2015 Vermont legislative session who will be able to accomplish anything other than rectifying the up to $100 million (as some media sources are reporting) deficit that the previous legislators have incurred. It's outrageous to think that with that much debt, anyone can re-elect the very people responsible for creating it.

We should be ashamed of what our paid elected officials have done. I further think we should freeze any re-elected officials' salaries for the 2015 session and see how many of them show up, without pay.

That is the test. Is it passion or pay that draws our legislators to office? Or is it power? A true example of power would be creating and sticking to a budget, which our elected officials have failed to do.

How dare they even consider school consolidation when for all their efforts they get an F on the simple math of budgeting. Any first grader knows that if we don't have enough money, we can't buy what we want. Why are we honoring people who continually spend our money on things we don't want?

God bless Vermont. I've been praying that the people of Vermont will shift their thinking and elect new officials who understand the needs of the people. We must on Nov. 4 create that shift.

It's up to you.

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