GUILFORD — I met a man last year, a humble man, a man of modest means by all appearance. He called himself a “farmer” - a “tree farmer” - a “tiller of the soil.” He dressed the part and he wore a beard. His name is Jason Herron.
“I don't like men with beards,” as Henry Angle once told me for those of you old enough to have known him. “Don't trust them.”
But we were there, my wife Sandra and I, along with a group of other Guilford residents, all of us drawn by the promise that we would learn everything we didn't know that we didn't know about the U.S. Constitution and our Bill of Rights.
It was to be a 10-week course, a course I didn't realize I needed or even cared about but one that Sandra had dragged me to under threat of having to sleep on our couch for some undisclosed period of time.
The course was called “Constitution Alive,” and this yet-unknown Guilford farmer, Jason Herron, was there to serve as the presenter. I was initially unimpressed and tried to imagine how I might be able to tough it out without seeming to be obviously bored, strictly in order to avoid persecution when we returned home that night.
After all, what could a simple farmer know that I didn't already know about the Constitution?
Jason took the floor. It was the beginning of an inspiration that literally overwhelmed me. I believe everyone else there felt the same way, because every person present that evening is still a devoted and active supporter of Jason Herron the person as well as Jason Herron the candidate for Guilford Selectboard.And others have signed on since.
Jason's knowledge of the subject and his insight about the intent, meaning, purpose, and political abuse of our Constitution and Bill of Rights is impressive. His literacy, energy, presence, commitment, character, charm, and charisma taken together serve to make him exceptional. I see him as being gifted.
From the onset Jason had no aspirations for political office. As the Constitutional course proceeded and the weeks passed by, more and more of his class attendees began to think that he possessed an aptitude suitable for success in politics. We began to encourage him every week, but he repeatedly dismissed the suggestion.
However, at the very last minute he changed his mind. It may have been the encouragement he received from his following but more than likely it was the perceived misdirection, misconduct, and the semblance of secrecy by the sitting Selectboard that influenced his decision.
The primary plank in Jason's election platform has to do with ensuring that all the residents of Guilford are provided with comprehensive knowledge of what the Selectboard is doing, why they're doing it, and how they're doing it. It's called “transparency.”
His friends and supporters stand in admiration of him for his willingness to enter politics as a freshman, risk criticism, and endure the abuse of a misinformed opposition.
He has already been labeled in a negative manner as a dastardly right-winger. He is not. He simply wants to insure that Guilford is managed by good government.
To him, that means a government is open to public scrutiny, is accessible, is equitable in the execution of its duties, works hard to control spending and thereby reduce property taxes, is protective of our land, adheres to Vermont statutes and lives by our Vermont Constitution.
For all these reasons, I don't mind if he chooses to wear a beard. I trust him.