‘When the conversations got very tough, I didn’t run from them’

Wessel: ‘I will have a particular focus on fixing a seriously broken child care support system we have here in Vermont’

BRATTLEBORO — The stage is now set for a dramatic six-way race for two open seats in the Vermont Senate for Windham County!

For voters in our state's general election, this will feel like a far-too-rare and luxurious position to be in. Not only have we not seen two vacant seats in our Senate for very many years, but the knowledge that who sits in those positions will shape policy for years to come makes for an exciting moment when you hold the power of that little pencil in your hands.

As many of you may know, I was the first to declare my independent candidacy back in February of this year, and I asked you to consider the value of electing a consistent, experienced, stable voice as one of your two county senators. Now that the political parties have had their respective August dramas play out, we are two months away from choosing which of six very different candidates will best serve the people of Windham County.

My “pitch” to you, as voters, remains as I presented it to you in February. Please examine the history of service and commitment of each candidate, the ability of that candidate to listen openly and respond effectively, and the track record of each to work hard for the issues for which you care about most deeply.

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When I read my last sentence there, it sounds like a simple task, but believe me, I don't think for a moment that this is easy for anyone, including myself.

Some folks I talk to on the campaign trail tell me that they will look for the two candidates who most closely align with their personal values. Others say one issue rules their decisions. Still others tell me that they seek a balance of views or that they will try to imagine which two of us will work best together for the good of Windham County.

No matter what your method of deciding which two out of six you will support in early October by mail-in ballot or on Election Day Nov. 8, I hope that you can send forward two representatives who you know have shown consistent commitment to their community.

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I have served on the Brattleboro Selectboard for 5{1/2} years, and for years before that as a Town Meeting representative in Brattleboro. I was chair of the Selectboard during 2020, when we struggled with both a dangerous pandemic and a tumultuous (and very much needed) community conversation about public safety.

When the conversations got very tough, I didn't run from them; I stepped up to lead our community through that difficult year and helped to make connections happen between neighbors and led meetings in a fair and balanced way.

The people of Brattleboro have elected me four times in a row now. Once I am elected to public office, I don't quit. I keep serving, and I keep trying to find the best solutions for our community. That's the job I was hired by voters to do.

My values and issues of interest align pretty closely with Nader Hashim and Wendy Harrison [“A Democratic duo campaigns for state Senate,” Candidate Statement, Aug. 31], but I will have a particular focus on fixing a seriously broken child care support system we have here in Vermont.

My family lived the experience of losing our toddler's child care during the pandemic, and while we fought hard to help put that provider back in service and we succeeded, others were not as lucky. This must be fixed because it is an essential economic driver for our region; working parents need child care to be able to work.

My second focus has to be working on housing availability and the similar challenges it presents to our state and our economic vibrancy. In fact, the two issues of child care and housing are together so integral to our health and well-being, and to supporting young working people, that I cannot imagine concentrating on one and not the other.

The list of problems to address in the Senate doesn't stop there, of course. There's so much more work to be done on our workforce, our opioid crisis, health care, and protecting our environment and women's reproductive freedom, among others. And we can't expect our taxpayers to have trust in us if we are not also being fiscal watchdogs over their hard-earned money.

I believe that someone with a track record of being open to listening to all sides, of providing a voice of common sense and a history of data-driven decision making, who values sound policy over party politics, will be an excellent choice to represent you in Montpelier.

If elected, this is what I will do for you, and I ask for your vote to be one of your two next senators for Windham County.

I am ready to get to work. Not for a party platform. For you.

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