Q&A: Candidates for Representative to Congress | Primary Voter Guide | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Q&A: Candidates for Representative to Congress 

Published June 29, 2022 at 9:59 a.m. | Updated July 12, 2022 at 7:54 p.m.

click to enlarge Liam Madden,  Ericka Bundy Redic, Anya Tynio, Becca Balint, Sianay Chase Clifford, Molly Gray, Louis Meyers - COURTESY PHOTOS
  • Courtesy Photos
  • Liam Madden, Ericka Bundy Redic, Anya Tynio, Becca Balint, Sianay Chase Clifford, Molly Gray, Louis Meyers

Seats in the 435-member U.S. House of Representatives are distributed based on population. Texas has 36 now and thanks to the 2020 U.S. Census is about to get two more. Vermont, on the other hand, has just one. Currently, it's occupied by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), but he's running for Senate instead. Hoping to fill Welch's House seat for the next two years are four Democrats and three Republicans. They're competing in the primary for the chance to represent their parties in the general election in November.

Democrats

Becca Balint

Brattleboro

President pro tempore of the Vermont Senate, teacher

Why are you running?

I am running to be a voice for all Vermonters. As a mom, public school teacher and president of the Senate, I have fought for working people my entire life. I am a tested leader with a track record of getting things done for Vermonters that Washington has left behind.

Three accomplishments that qualify you:

I was elected to serve as president pro tem of the Senate unanimously, garnering support from all parties.

I passed some of Vermont's most progressive legislation, including Vermont's first gun safety bills, investments in housing and the strongest reproductive rights bill in the nation.

I taught young Vermonters as a rural public schoolteacher for 14 years.

What should we do on the federal level to reduce gun violence?

I will stand up to the gun lobby and advocate for gun safety measures including reinstating the assault weapons ban, instituting universal background checks, investing in gun violence research and prevention programs, and passing red flag laws. There is no reason for weapons of war to be in our communities.

Do you support the basing of the F-35 fighter jets at BTV? If not, what would you do to move them?

I strongly support having an Air National Guard base at the Burlington International Airport and believe it must stay. I also support finding a mission for the base that does not include the F-35 fighter jets, which have simply proven too loud for Chittenden County communities.

Name a Vermonter who inspires you.

My friend Brian Hsiang: We met through the Farm and Wilderness foundation. Brian has dedicated his life to bringing justice and equity to Vermont communities. His love for his two daughters, his wife Jenna, for his community, and his deep compassion and kindness make him a ray of light.

Who will your allies in the House be?

I will work with anyone if it means supporting rural Vermonters, families, and protecting our rights. Certainly Reps. Pramila Jayapal, David Cicilline, Ritchie Torres, and Mark Takano, who have all supported me. But I will find allies wherever I can if it means getting priorities done for Vermonters.

In an increasingly polarized Congress, how would you interact with members of the opposing party?

Just as Congressman Welch has done so effectively, I have always believed in working across the aisle to get things done for Vermonters whenever I can, and standing tough and fighting whenever I must. I have done both in Montpelier, and am ready to do both in Washington.

Sianay Chase Clifford

Essex Town

Social worker

Why are you running?

I grew up in Vermont, in a house full of family taking refuge from the Liberian Civil War. I know what it's like to love this beautiful state and feel like it doesn't love you back. It takes someone who understands that to fight for solutions that center working families.

Three accomplishments that qualify you:

Crafted and introduced multiple pieces of federal legislation.

As a social worker I've assisted folks in financial emergencies, supporting their housing needs and accessing income supports.

While there are many more personal and professional accomplishments I could share, I care deeply and am fiercely focused on policy — and I think that is qualification enough.

What should we do on the federal level to reduce gun violence?

Establish a national permit-to-purchase legislative framework, without exceptions for the type or use of the firearm and inclusive of universal background checks, secure storage requirements, red flag laws, and a national registry. A reasonable, standardized process that would address the gun violence that continues to traumatize communities.

Do you support the basing of the F-35 fighter jets at BTV? If not, what would you do to move them?

No: We've historically had a Congressional delegation in lock step with the Air Force and Department of Defense. I would work to get funding to independently collect data about the F-35's environmental impact on our communities and use that information to petition the Department of Defense to rebase the aircraft.

Name a Vermonter past or present who inspires you.

My mom, Mary. She was the first girl in her village to go to school and always did what everyone said she shouldn't. When her country was struck by war, she kept her family safe and built a life for us in a state that wasn't always kind to her.

Who will your allies in the House be?

Anyone who understands the urgency of the crises we’re facing, and is committed to progressive action over messaging.

In an increasingly polarized Congress, how would you interact with members of the opposing party?

Unconditional positive regard — finding the good and the humanity in folks (as long as my humanity isn’t up for debate) and centering love and compassion. That’s how I intended to approach policy and how I always will approach people.

Molly Gray

Burlington

Lieutenant governor, attorney with a background in international human rights law

Why are you running?

With experience at the state, federal and international levels, I believe I am the right person at the right time to bring the next generation of Vermont leadership to Congress. As lt. governor, I know our state's greatest challenges — workforce, housing, child care, climate — can't be solved by Vermont alone.

Three accomplishments that qualify you:

I've spent nearly a half decade working in Congress, both for Rep. Welch as a Congressional aide and for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

An international human rights lawyer by training, I have advocated for human rights at home and abroad.

I've served statewide as lt. governor and understand the diverse needs of our state.

What should we do on the federal level to reduce gun violence?

Gun violence is an ever-present threat in our communities. Enough is enough. It's time for bipartisan action to pass commonsense measures to ban assault weapons, expand "red flag" laws and background checks, promote safe gun storage, close the "Charleston loophole," and track gun violence as the public-health threat it is.

Do you support the basing of the F-35 fighter jets at BTV? If not, what would you do to move them?

The decision to bring the F35s to Burlington was made by the U.S. Air Force and was supported by Sens. Leahy & Sanders, Rep. Welch, and Gov. Scott. I respect that decision. In Congress, I'll work to expand funding for noise monitoring and sound mitigation for buildings in affected areas.

Name a Vermonter past or present who inspires you.

Governor Madeleine Kunin, the first — and to date only — woman to hold our state's highest office. Gov. Kunin has been a friend and mentor throughout my career; for Vermont women leaders, she blazed the trail and served as our guide. She's our unwavering example of what is possible.

Who will your allies in the House be?

I’ll strive to be a pragmatic, results-oriented Democrat like my mentors Sen. Leahy and Rep. Welch. Like them, I’ll work with anyone to do what is right for Vermont. I’m eager to work alongside my friend, foreign policy leader Rep. Jim McGovern, and my fellow Lt. Governors running for Congress.

In an increasingly polarized Congress, how would you interact with members of the opposing party?

Throughout my career, I’ve always worked to put policy, people, and progress ahead of politics. As Lt. Governor, I’ve worked across the aisle with Gov. Phil Scott. In Washington, I will do the same, reaching across the aisle and leading with civility, integrity, and a willingness to bridge the divide.

Louis Meyers

South Burlington

Hospital-based physician at Rutland Regional Medical Center

Why are you running?

I have spent the past 30+ years trying to save lives, first as a social worker and now as a physician. I see serving in Congress as an extension of that mission, using my knowledge of the health care system to craft legislation which could save many thousands of lives.

Three accomplishments that qualify you:

My accomplishments are the smiles and thanks from my patients and their families.

What should we do on the federal level to reduce gun violence?

To reduce gun violence: Reinstate the ban on assault rifles; ban ghost guns; ban ammunition magazines of greater than 10 rounds; mandatory background checks on all gun sales; instate red flag laws; fully fund the ATF; mandatory minimum of five years in prison for any crime in which a gun was used.

Do you support the basing of the F-35 fighter jets at BTV? If not, what would you do to move them?

I believe that it was a bad idea to base the F-35 in the most populous community in Vermont. I would advocate to use the congressional appropriation system to move the F-35s to a less populated base — preferably still in Vermont.

Name a Vermonter who inspires you.

I have a great deal of respect for our late senator Jim Jeffords. It must have been tremendously hard for him to have left the Republican Party and his colleagues there, but he followed his conscience and altered the course of history.

Who will your allies in the House be?

My allies in the House will be other moderate Democrats and members of the Problem Solvers Caucus.

In an increasingly polarized Congress, how would you interact with members of the opposing party?

I would imagine that my most productive interactions with Republican members of Congress would be with members who are physicians. We share that bond, and might be able to work on bipartisan measures which would make our health care system more fair, more efficient, less costly, and of high quality.

Republicans

Liam Madden

Rockingham

Director of solar energy department for a home energy tech company

Why are you running?

Humanity faces catastrophic risks that the two-party system won't solve. I am running to illuminate a pathway to better collective problem-solving — a healthy politics. I'm running because I don't want the Green New Deal to be to sustainability as Obamacare was to health — a half measure — and lost opportunity.

Three accomplishments that qualify you:

I'm a Marine Corps veteran who became the leader of the nation's largest organization of Iraq veterans.

I won M.I.T.'s Solve award for organizations innovating sustainability solutions.

I've risked my life both for this country, and standing up against our government — winning the Institute for Policy Studies' esteemed Human Rights Award for organizing fellow active-duty troops.

What should we do on the federal level to reduce gun violence?

I offer policies which neither side has considered. I introduced these in recent op-eds on finding common ground on gun control in VTDigger, and the Commons. In short, these are heightened red flag laws empowering local communities to monitor the responsibility and wellness of those with certain weapons.

Do you support the basing of the F-35 fighter jets at BTV? If not, what would you do to move them?

I don't support those weapons being so close to such populated areas. My first choice would be to keep the base but mitigate the sound. If that's not feasible, then we must first leverage courts to enforce existing laws and regulations that prevent training with such negative public health impacts.

Name a Vermonter who inspires you:

Bernie Sanders is someone who is more consistent in his values than any political figure in the last 50 years. He has had the courage to advocate for what he believed was right even when it was extremely unpopular, including being anti-Iraq War and PATRIOT ACT, and pro-gay marriage.

Who will your allies in the House be?

I am an independent — from Vermont. So naturally I will be perfectly willing to collaborate with progressives — as long as they are not dogmatic ideologues. And I am happy to collaborate with Republicans — again, who are not dogmatic ideologues. Moderates too, who have the courage to be bold when needed.

In an increasingly polarized Congress, how would you interact with members of the opposing party?

I have no opposing party. I am not elected to support party agendas. In fact, I explicitly intend to dismantle the chokehold of the two-party system on public representation and good problem solving. I will interact with all fellow humans with kindness, compassion, courage, imagination, playfulness, and authenticity.

Ericka Bundy Redic

Burlington

Accountant, formerly on the Planning and Use Management Commission of Central Hollywood, 2018

Why are you running?

Washington is spending the earnings of future generations without regard for the impact on working class Americans. As Vermont's next Congresswoman, I will work to bring down the national debt and help stabilize the economy. We will restore our energy independence and help ensure access to mental health services.

Three accomplishments that qualify you:

Starting my own accounting and small business consulting firm.

Successfully advocated, alongside the Women's Rape Crisis Center, to change law that made women vulnerable to predators.

13 years in recovery and helping others to get and stay sober.

What should we do on the federal level to reduce gun violence?

Through gun violence we see the human cost of broken families, childhood trauma and addiction. We must promote and cultivate mentorship by adults in the community with kids who needs them. This is why my husband and I volunteer for Catalyst Collective and the PurposePro.org.

Do you support the basing of the F-35 fighter jets at BTV? If not, what would you do to move them?

I am a strong supporter of the armed forces. I would consider the effort to move them, if someone can demonstrate: how to fund maintenance and upkeep; how to replace the jobs that will be lost; how to address loss of population when Vermont National Guard families are relocated.

Name a Vermonter who inspires you:

Calvin Coolidge was the only American president to not increase the national debt. He was a statesman and truly respected the federalist system established by our constitution. Elected officials ought to appreciate the contribution of our labor to coffers by being good stewards of those resources.

Who will your allies in the House be?

My allies will be any House members who support and protect the constitution. Even Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a Progressive, is in favor of term limits for federal officials. Something I will support day one in Congress.

In an increasingly polarized Congress, how would you interact with members of the opposing party?

I try to treat every person with dignity and respect. The same way I want to be treated. I will remember that we are all on the same team — Republicans, Progressives, Libertarians and Democrats. We are all Americans and want the best for ourselves and our communities.

Anya Tynio

Charleston

Marketing, management, current county committeewoman for the Vermont Republican Party

Why are you running?

To provide fresh and effective leadership for Vermont in Washington, D.C. To promote fiscal responsibility, American business, American security and constitutional rights.

Three accomplishments that qualify you:

I was appointed to represent the Republican Party in the 2018 general election. I was elected to represent Vermont as a delegate to the Republican National Committee in 2020. In 2022, as a member of the Vermont GOP Platform Committee, I crafted and successfully advocated for a Healthcare Providers Conscience Protection Amendment to be added to the platform.

What should we do on the federal level to reduce gun violence?

Investigate the reasons and motivation for the violence, including gang affiliation, criminal activity, mental health, etc. Fund law enforcement and support the efforts of law enforcement and prosecutors to keep career criminals off the streets. Combat the use and trafficking of drugs in our country.

Do you support the basing of the F-35 fighter jets at BTV? If not, what would you do to move them?

For now I support their basing at BTV as it is beneficial to the Vermont Air Guard. For the citizens' sake I am open to negotiation for a better arrangement.

Name a Vermonter who inspires you:

The highly esteemed, recently retired VTGOP Chair of Chairs, Chet Greenwood. His knowledge and understanding of complex political issues and standards is unparalleled. His nearly two decades of dedication to the success of the State of Vermont should never be forgotten.

Who will your allies in the House be?

Representatives who value the constitution and believe in the principles of liberty. Those who are working on positive solutions to the rising cost of food, fuel and other necessities.

In an increasingly polarized Congress, how would you interact with members of the opposing party?

I will treat everyone with the respect that they deserve. I will seek to work with all of my fellow representatives on legislation that benefits my constituents in Vermont and our nation.

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