‘I am here’
Incoming Windham-3 Rep. Leslie Goldman takes the oath of office via Zoom.

‘I am here’

A new legislator reflects on two days of mission and meaning

ROCKINGHAM — Jan. 6 and 7, 2021 have been memorable days.

Wednesday morning started with the convening of the 2021–22 biennium of the Vermont State Legislature. The first action was a roll call by the secretary of state, Jim Condos.

Each member was required to acknowledge their presence. I was asked to say, “This is Leslie Goldman, and I am here.” These words were more moving than I expected.

Reflecting on the meaning of “I am here” led me to realize that “I am here” with my colleagues to serve the people of Vermont.

“I am here” means I am present in this moment with awareness of the needs of those in Windham-3, as well as the needs of our environment and of our world. There was a real sense of responsibility and awe in those three words.

We then nominated and elected our new speaker of the house, Rep. Jill Krowinski of Burlington, who spoke eloquently on the need to “chart a course that leaves no Vermonter behind.” This very important aspiration was an inspiring way to begin our work.

Next item on the agenda was the oath of office. Once again, I had no idea I would be so moved by reciting this oath - in fact, I became tearful. Making a commitment to uphold the constitutions of Vermont and of the United States is so important - shockingly evident to me in contrast to the backdrop of all that has happened in the last four years with the members of our federal government who clearly have not lived up to their oaths.

Committee assignments were then announced. Most of our work as representatives is done in our committees where we delve deeply into issues and create legislation to solve problems.

I have been assigned to the Health Care Committee, which makes sense given my background as a family nurse practitioner for 37 years. I am very excited to be working on health care topics, and I'm very interested to hear about your experience of health care, especially in the time of COVID-19.

* * *

Sadly, the day took a very dark turn with the events in Washington during the counting of the electoral votes. I was so glad to see that our institutions held, that the insurrection was rebuffed, and that the election was certified.

Gov. Phil Scott made a powerful statement calling for the president's resignation or removal from office, and on Thursday, Jan. 7, the Vermont House and Senate supported him in a joint resolution condemning his actions. It was an honor and a privilege to add my name to that legislative measure.

The full work at the House starts the week of Jan. 12. Of course, we are on Zoom, which has its own unique set of challenges.

But I believe we are beginning to move through these dark times. We have cared for each other and have learned a lot about what really matters.

I know we will take these lessons into the future as we aim to “leave no Vermonter behind.”

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