A former House member — Progressive Chris Pearson — has decided to run for the seat and will kick off his campaign Friday.
Zuckerman is part of a two-seat Burlington district covering the neighborhoods in and around the University of Vermont. The other seat is held by Rep. Kesha Ram (D-Burlington), who bested Pearson in 2008 in a spirited four-way race between two Democrats and two Progressives.
Zuckerman, an organic farmer who has purchased farmland in Hinesburg but still resides in Burlington, said the demands of expanding his organic farm clinched his decision.
"It's the reality of life — the business is taking up a lot of time and energy right now, which is what happens when you take on a half-million dollars in debt," said Zuckerman, who runs Full Moon Farm with his wife Rachel Nevitt. The pair also has a 4-year-old daughter, and Zuckerman said a desire to spend more time with her also played into his decision.
Zuckerman said he had given up the idea of running for the House months ago, and has considered a run for lieutenant governor and Chittenden County senate.
"I've served now for 14 years, and it's time to take a break," said Zuckerman. "I may re-engage in a few years, but for now I'm going to step back."
Earlier this year, Zuckerman admitted to putting in for mileage allowances even though he carpooled to Montpelier. That drew a lot of ire from constituents, but the lead lawyer for the legislature said it's perfectly legit.
Zuckerman secured the most votes in the 2008 election with 2316, while Ram had 2163. Pearson followed in third with 1494 votes, while Democrat Phillip Ortego had 781 votes.
"As many of you remember, I lost my election in 2008. It was a painful process. But 2010 brings a new opportunity, and my friend David Zuckerman's retirement from the House creates a great chance for me to go back," Pearson said in an email inviting supporters to attend his campaign launch Friday on the UVM campus.
He told Seven Days that he's been thinking about a return to Montpelier for months, but began reaching out to supporters in earnest after the New Year.
"I really miss it, and I was able to accomplish quite a bit in my two years there, and it sort of was just getting started," Pearson said. "I wanted to give it a lot of thought, and I would like to continue doing [that], and a voice like mine provides an awful lot in the process."
In his first term, Pearson served as leader of the six-person Progressive Party caucus. During his single term, he called for funding schools by income taxes rather than property taxes. He also introduced legislation to create a "do not mail" registry akin to the state's Do Not Call registry. The measure was designed to keep people from receiving unwanted junk mail.
Pearson said that in his day job, working for National Popular Vote, he has seen how one person can make a difference in a small legislature.
Besides Pearson, the Progressive Party is likely to run a second candidate in the race, said Morgan Daybell, the party's executive director.
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