I’m proud to be a Vermonter and to be a part of the Richmond community. We are all facing an unprecedented crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but I know that our strength and resilience will see us through these challenging times. We need engaged and thoughtful leaders now more than ever. I would be honored to rise to the challenges we are facing and be your voice in Montpelier.
It is essential that we support our schools and students as we move forward in the coming school year. Providing schools with the resources they need to safely guide our children forward is crucial. Increased resources for special education, supportive services, and mental health services should be a priority. Afterschool programs are also an important form of educational and social support for students. We must allocate the necessary resources to afterschool programs so they can continue to support students and families.
We are facing serious equity issues with regards to remote learning: some families don’t have the technology or internet access available at home to fully engage in remote learning. Expanding access to broadband is critical so that students can engage in remote learning. Additionally, the availability of quality internet service also facilitates access to telehealth appointments with therapists and medical providers.
Supporting our childcare system and getting working parents back to their jobs will be key to Vermont’s economic recovery. Even before the current crisis, our state has struggled with a lack of affordable, high quality childcare programs. Early childhood education and social-emotional development is essential for our young children and we must support our early educators and programs through increased funding and capacity building.
Creating a system of paid family and medical leave will allow working families to care for their children, themselves, and members of their families during the challenging moments when they most need support. More Vermonters will be able to provide longer care for their children after birth or placement through adoption or foster care. Employees will also be entitled to paid leave for their own illness or the serious illness of a family member.
Vermont must continue to act decisively to combat climate change. Protecting Vermont’s environment, our winters, and the health of our planet must remain a top priority even while we deal with the current health crisis. We need to invest in an innovative green economy to create new jobs and help our economy thrive while also reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. We must continue to invest in renewable energy and build our clean transportation infrastructure. I support the Global Warming Solutions Act and the move to turn our goals into requirements that will hold the state accountable for achieving those benchmarks.
As your representative, I will join the fight to end systemic racial injustice. This work is long overdue and as a starting point we must acknowledge that racism is deeply embedded in our current policies and institutions. In order to truly engage in this work and support our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color here in Vermont we must commit to meaningful reform across the board and particularly in the areas of law enforcement, education, and criminal justice.
Access to affordable medical care, including treatment for substance use disorders and mental health services, is vitally important for the health of our communities. Citizens across our state have a better opportunity to thrive when they have access to affordable health insurance. A strong network of supportive healthcare services for our seniors will also help ensure that many have better options for aging in place as they grow older.
This upcoming year will hold many challenges for our leaders across the state as we cope with revenue shortfalls and build a framework for Vermont’s economic recovery. I want to hear your priorities, I will be your voice in Montpelier, and I will work hard on behalf of this community. I promise to be thoughtful, transparent, and engaged as a leader and I ask for your support.