As all in the environmental community awaken to the new political realities that we are facing, Vermont Conservation Voters (on whose board I proudly serve) is wasting no time dwelling on a cup half-empty.
Focusing on the positive in state election results, VCV points out that twenty of the thirty newly elected Senate members, and at least 87 of the 150 House members, received VCV endorsements for their strong environmental voting records and for the opinions they expressed in a pre-election questionnaire.
As analysts and commentators continue to sort out what this election means for health care and property taxes, a deeper look reveals that Vermonters clearly continue to support candidates who value a clean, healthy environment,” said Lauren Hierl, political director of the Vermont Conservation Voters (VCV).
The VCV press release draws particular attention to new senators, Becca Balint (Windham), Brian Campion (Bennington); as well as to new house representatives, Amy Sheldon (Addison-1), Robin Chesnut-Tangerman (Rutland-Bennington), Steve Berry (Bennington-4), Chip Troiano (Caledonia-2), Mary Sullivan (Chittenden-6-5), Martin LaLonde (Chittenden-7-1), and Avram Patt (Lamoille-Washington).
All of the above happen to be Democrats, Progressives or Independents, but the non-partisan VCV does not focus on affiliations in its salutory announcement.
It does, however, single out one new Republican senator for special mention, my next-door neighbor in St. Albans, Dustin Degree:
Dustin Degree, a newly-elected Franklin County GOP senator, said he would support increased funding to clean up waterways in his district. “I pledge…that if elected I will not support a budget that does not set aside funding to clean up St. Albans Bay, Missisqoui Bay and Lake Carmi…We have the money to pay for things that matter – we just need leaders willing to fight to make the priorities of the people the priorities of state government. A healthy Lake Champlain and Lake Carmi are priorities for me, and if given the honor of serving you in the State Senate, I’ll get our waters their day in the State House, and look forward to the day we all swim in the Bay again.”
It is a shame that we have lost three valued voices for environmental responsibility in defeated Franklin County Democrats, Sara Kittell and Mike McCarthy, and Progressive Cindy Weed, but if we gain a new Republican voice for clean water, that will be genuine cause for celebration.
All eyes are on you, Dustin. Don’t let us down.