Tristan Roberts, representative, Windham-6

HALIFAX — Thank you to everyone who participated in the general election here in Windham-6. Thank you to each voter who considered my candidacy for state representative. Thank you to those who trusted me with your vote. I have all your voices, all your stories, with me as I pack for the session in Montpelier that starts Jan. 4.

As someone who was once a shy kid, the last six months have been a gift. I've seen a lot of Windham County in 25 years, but I often felt boyish in my enthusiasm for having a reason to drive up any driveway, knock on any door, or introduce myself to anyone. For the vistas alone from the back roads of Halifax, Whitingham, and Wilmington, I recommend anyone run for office here.

At the same time, some questions remain unanswerable except with dad jokes. Why is Longest Drive among Wilmington's shortest roads? Has the person there who named Steep Hill Road seen Pennel Hill in Halifax? Why two Pike Roads, miles apart in Whitingham?

Getting lost is part of good journey. Two flat tires months apart on Route 9 led to being well-cared for by two good folks.

I'm grateful to the people I met everywhere, whether we talked for hours or a couple minutes. Despite concerns many expressed about the tone of political discourse, I found that just about everyone was willing to talk in civil terms and that many people have a story you wouldn't expect. A number of people told me they'd like to run for state rep. but couldn't, often due to work or family obligations.

Not that I didn't get yelled at or turned away - I did. My motives were questioned in both friendly and hostile ways. Thank you. Everyone has the right to their authentic voice. Every question provides something to reflect on.

Thank you to my family and friends for joining me on this journey. At a time when our Vermont towns are often challenged to fill positions in government, I want to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to an Arizonian, Wendy Vittori. As the executive director at the Health Product Declaration Collaborative, Wendy not only works for social justice in building product manufacturing, but she walks the walk within the organization. The flexible work schedule she offered helped with my door-knocking, as did her understanding when my cell service went in and out on Brickhouse Road - and everywhere else.

I also want to acknowledge those we lost in 2022, whether they passed away or left our borders for better opportunities. Our elected leaders ought to consider whether we have done well by those who can no longer be here. Vermont families are pushed to the edge like now as never before. Our safety, our rights, our health, our economy, our educational system, and our prosperous future will be much on my mind in the 2023–2024 biennium.

Thank you to town clerks Patty Dow (Halifax), Almira Aekus (Whitingham), Therese Lounsbury (Wilmington), and the poll workers and boards of civil authority who counted the vote with integrity. Thank you and congratulations to everyone who ran. Democracy works when we show up.

Residents told me how important it is for their representative to stay in touch. I am planning to make myself available through office hours and updates in local media. Send me an email at [email protected] to be added to my newsletter from Montpelier.

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