The Vermont Worker’s Center hosted a public forum on Human Rights and the Economy at the Franklin County Senior Center last Thursday. All candidates for the house and senate were invited to participate.
It was disappointing, if not particularly surprising, that no Republican candidates made it to the event, but the Democratic and Progressive representation was impressive.
For the House, sitting reps, Kathy Keenan, Cindy Weed and Mike McCarthy were joined by Franklin 5 candidate Bob Irish. Even the two Democratic senate candidates, Sara Kittell and Bill Roberts were there for the first part of the forum, though they had to leave early to fulfill another commitment.
This was not a setting for stump speeches, but rather an opportunity for the candidates to hear the issues and concerns of veterans, seniors, the disabled and the economically disenfranchised.
Someone asked me if, in the complete void of Republican candidates, the forum had resolved itself into a “love feast.” I assured them that it had not.
Members of the audience represented the folks in our county with the greatest challenges, and they asked tough questions that reflected the difficulty of their individual situations.
To their credit, all of the candidates listened with respect and provided thoughtful answers.
Most impressive was the engagement of sitting House members, Keenan, McCarthy and Weed.
They clearly understood the special responsibility each holds for actions of the legislature as a whole. Soberly and with humility, each rep owned the need for a proactive legislature and outlined not just what had been accomplished in the past, but where opportunities lie in the future.
The strength of their experience and common sense was clearly evident.
It was a mid-week evening, toward the end of a tiring campaign schedule, but these women and men cared enough to make themselves available to the least powerful of their constituents.
Either all of the Republican candidates had better things to do that night or they had no interest in hearing from constituents who have actual…you, know…needs.
I can understand that they might have little to say to these people. The only answer the GOP ever has is to cut taxes and give big business another helping hand.
How is that going to pay for a working class mother’s tooth extraction or insulate a working class family’s home?