Letters to the Editor (7/20/22) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (7/20/22) 

Published July 20, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated August 2, 2022 at 12:55 p.m.

More From Meyers

In Chelsea Edgar's recent story on the Democratic Congressional campaign ["Congressional Countdown," July 13], she referenced me as one of the four candidates but failed to note that I have been working as a hospital physician at Rutland Regional Medical Center for over nine years and during that time have taken care of thousands of Vermonters.

As a physician for nearly 30 years — in both primary care and hospitals — I have a great deal of knowledge and perspective of our health care system and hope to focus on health care improvements and reform as Vermont's next congressman.

Louis Meyers

South Burlington

'Some Choice'

[Re "Congressional Countdown," July 13]: Some choice: Molly Gray's qualifications are stuffing envelopes and answering phones for no-name politicians and Becca Balint, a transplant who wants to turn Vermont into New Jersey with scenery.

Tim Vincent


Bernie Blew It

I am severely disappointed in U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders' endorsement of Sen. Becca Balint for U.S. Congress ["Bernie Sanders Endorses Balint in Vermont's U.S. House Race," July 6; "Congressional Countdown," July 13]. Sianay Chase Clifford is the progressive choice in this race, but in a politics-as-usual move, Sanders is supporting a campaign addicted to PAC money and a candidate guaranteed to fall in line with the failing politics of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Sanders shouldn't claim that Balint is the more practical or experienced candidate. It wasn't practicality or experience that led Sanders to beat five-term incumbent Gordon Paquette in the 1981 Burlington mayoral race. I remember. I was there supporting him.

Meanwhile, practicality in Washington, D.C., has been an absolute disaster. While Democrats have been being practical, the ultraconservatives have set outrageous goals and delivered on them. Practicality has overturned Roe v. Wade. Practicality has given us an assault on voting rights. Practicality has brought us a constitutional crisis. Practicality has brought us an insurrection.

Without so much as a phone call, he has dismissed a truly progressive candidate while embracing Balint, a candidate who will be beholden to special interests outside of Vermont. He is turning his back on a once-in-a-generation candidate. This is not what I expected out of the impassioned mayor who inspired me as a young college student to spend my life in public service.

This is the action of a tired sellout.

Joseph Chase


Chase is the father of former U.S. House candidate Sianay Chase Clifford. She dropped out of the race just a few hours before this issue of Seven Days went to press.

Balint Is the 'Clear Choice'

I want to thank Seven Days for the recent 2022 Primary Voters' Guide [June 29]. As you point out, "officeholders grapple with serious issues on our behalf — with real consequences for us all. If you haven't started paying attention to these races already, it's time. Our democracy needs you to step up and take action."

For me, there is one clear choice for Vermont's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives: Becca Balint. Becca is the current leader of the Vermont state Senate, a post she was elected to unanimously by Democrats, Republicans and Progressives. Over the years, I have seen firsthand how her leadership skills have brought together folks from all parties.

As the former executive director of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, I have worked a lot with Becca on affordable housing and support issues. She is a fierce advocate for Vermonters' needs and has proven that in the legislature. As an elected Democratic city councilor from Burlington, I see her interest in helping our Vermont cities and towns thrive. Now more than ever, we need her advocacy in Congress; we need Becca to represent us in Washington, D.C.

Becca has the trusted experience that no other candidate has.

Sarah Carpenter


Molly Has It All

[Re "Democratic Congressional Candidates Debate," June 9, online]: I tuned in to last month's Seven Days/Vermont Public debate, which underscored for me the reasons that Lt. Gov. Molly Gray is the best pick to become the first woman to represent Vermont in Congress.

Molly has deep roots in Vermont, boasting a Vermont education spanning from elementary school to law school. She then worked in Washington, D.C., as a congressional staffer and for the International Committee of the Red Cross, where she led humanitarian missions abroad.

Here at home, Molly has also shown her commitment to public service through her work as an assistant attorney general, as a federal law clerk and as lieutenant governor.

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent series of destructive rulings, Molly's legal background will prove especially valuable. Congress must get to work codifying Roe and other fundamental rights — and we need leaders with the skills and experience to get the details right.

Watching all four candidates onstage, it is easy to see what sets Molly apart. She is the only candidate who has run and won statewide. Not only has Molly served in Montpelier, but she also spent more than a half decade working in and with Congress.

She also has the skill set to fight for Vermonters' fundamental rights in Washington.

All four candidates running for the lone congressional seat have something important to offer Vermonters. With Molly, we get it all.

She'll be ready on day one to defend Vermonters from conservative legal attacks; it's why I'll be supporting her on August 9.

Michelle Asch


Anyone but Molly

[Re "Congressional Countdown," July 13]: Nelson Mandela spent over two decades in jail, simply for the right to vote. Now, someone who couldn't be bothered, or even lied about it, wants to represent us in Washington, D.C.?

Do we want the establishment-picked same old, same old — or someone who's actually legislated for Vermonters?

And, sorry, but Fred Tuttle, RIP, already used the "barn to the House" line, much more deservedly.

"Mr. Charlie" Frazier


Teacher for Gray

I am a Vermont public school teacher, and I am voting for Lt. Gov. Molly Gray for Congress.

You should, too.

While Gray went against party leadership to support Vermont state teachers' and state employees' pensions, Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint aligned herself with House Speaker Jill Krowinski and Treasurer Beth Pearce. Their plan, which was overwhelmingly rejected by rank-and-file union members, required teachers and state employees to work longer hours, contribute more and take out less in order to correct decades of the governing board's poor investments. 

You can imagine my surprise when I read Balint boast of her "track record of getting things done" in the Seven Days Primary Voters' Guide [June 29].

Neither did Balint support Vermont State Colleges System and University of Vermont faculty and staff representation on their pension's governing board, despite it being Balint's job as pro tempore to prioritize this work and lead her party over the finish line. Instead, this did not happen. Despite a Democratic majority in both chambers, this bill died.

Gray has congressional experience, experience as an attorney and experience in international affairs. As lieutenant governor, she has reached out to all corners of the state to hear Vermonters' concerns. Listening is an important skill; in Washington, D.C., we don't need more talking heads taking credit for and/or diminishing other people's work.

I vote for actions, not words; for the person who takes brave stands, especially when it costs them political capital to do so; for the leader who has shown the will to buck leadership and stand up for Vermont's working families.

Liz Filskov


George's Justice

As ["Law and Order," Seven Days Primary Voters' Guide, June 29] mentions, Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George is the incumbent and is facing a primary challenge from Ted Kenney. If you live in Chittenden County, it is hard to drive two miles without coming across a Ted Kenney sign. He is definitely putting on a full-court press, and his message seems to primarily be: "Sarah George is too radical." I disagree with him. 

If you have a Black Lives Matter sign on your front lawn, you should be voting for Sarah George. If you believe in mental health care for people who are mentally ill, you should be voting for Sarah George. If you believe that our system is inherently biased against different segments of our population and you want a state's attorney who understands this and puts these beliefs into action, you should be voting for Sarah George. Work to combat systemic racism and inherent bias against the mentally ill requires radical thought and action. Sarah George has shown that she is willing to do the right thing rather than the easy thing, even when that is unpopular.

Do I agree with every single decision she's made? No. But I understand the complexity of her job, and I respect her intelligence, her compassion and her commitment to working as the state's attorney to find real justice for all Vermonters.

Peter Booth


Former State's Attorney Weighs In

[Re "Crime Seen: Long-Term Data From Burlington Police Show Overall Decline," June 25]: Your article on the lower crime rate recognized the increase in shootings, burglaries and aggravated assaults. Our present state's attorney is not addressing these concerns. That is why I am voting for Ted Kenney for Chittenden County state's attorney.

I worked in the criminal justice system for over 30 years, four of those as the Chittenden County state's attorney. As the top law enforcement officer in the county, you are accountable to the community, victims of crime and defendants. Part of that accountability is working with all stakeholders on reform within the system. I recognize that more reform is needed, balanced with the need for public safety.

Ted understands that public safety and meaningful reform are equally important. He understands that victims, many of whom carry scars for life, need a voice and that offenders need to be held accountable for their crimes. Ted has decades of experience in the criminal justice system. He understands the complexities of mental illness and addiction.

We live in difficult times, and Chittenden County has not been spared. Gun violence is now in our community. The drug crisis continues to wreak havoc, and many citizens have diminished faith in our system of justice. With each report of shots fired, people feel less safe.

Ted brings the experience and skills needed to change course and make our community safer. I will be voting for Ted Kenney on August 9 and hope you will consider doing the same.

Lauren Bowerman


Cover Everyone

I have been following with interest the four-way candidate race for U.S. House. I have been discouraged by the biased reporting by nearly all news media in making the campaign a two-candidate race long before the primary.

This, by the way, is not based on any reliable poll.

In order to have more voices join in a democratic process, it remains important that we allow folks to join these races without needing to have single-vote endorsements or make decisions based on self-interest groups.

I truly still believe that each individual's vote counts.

When the media chooses to create long, in-depth articles on one or two candidates and relegate the other candidates to one or two paragraphs, it is simply not professional and unbiased reporting.

When the small amount of coverage is then inaccurate, it not only creates misinformation but is also detrimental to a candidate's efforts.

All four candidates deserve full recognition for their efforts to make their voice heard. They have all met the requirements for signatures to get onto the ballot and have filed federally with regard to transparent fundraising.

As an example, in ["Congressional Countdown," July 13], there is absolutely no mention that Louis Meyers has been working at Rutland Regional Medical Center for the past decade.

There is no mention that he has been going door-to-door all over the state to hear Vermonters' concerns.

The candidates deserve better.

Lianna Percy


'Do Another Interview'

In ["Congressional Countdown," July 13], the reporter discussed Lt. Gov. Molly Gray and Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint extensively. Both have been named the leading candidates in the race. They are getting a lot of attention from articles like this.

The other two candidates, Sianay Chase Clifford and Dr. Louis Meyers, were hardly mentioned. I don't know much about Sianay Chase Clifford. I do know Louis Meyers. He stopped by my house in South Burlington to introduce himself. He has walked many miles in Vermont, going from house to house, listening, learning, offering his thoughts. He has no prominent endorsements from politicians. For some Vermonters, this is a badge of honor. He's been a doctor, saving lives, healing Vermonters, and getting a deep understanding of the social determinants that impact our behavioral and physical health. He has spent his whole life and working career not promoting himself up the political ladder and instead being there for the most vulnerable Vermonters, one-on-one, just like he campaigns.

In Congress, he'll vote for the people, not for special interests. He owes them nothing, doesn't need them or want them. Compared to Gray and Balint, Meyers is the clear underdog. I wish the reporter had spent a day with Meyers, walked with him, like she did with Balint. She might have seen how this honest and humble physician interacts with people and could be a unique addition to our congressional delegation. Repair the inequity, the bias; do another interview. There's time.

Julie Patrissi

South Burlington

Balint Is Battle-Ready

The July 13 issue stands as a journalistic gem, with in-depth insight about the personal and professional lives of Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint and Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, the top Democratic contenders for U.S. Rep. Peter Welch's open seat in Washington, D.C.

The cover story, "Congressional Countdown," brings back searing memories. As a three-year enlisted Army veteran from the 1960s, I remember appraising each new second lieutenant: Those from university Reserve Officers' Training Corps programs and summer camps, basically, learned from us and those who'd served in the enlisted ranks and become officers via the grim rigors of Officer Candidate School — those who could break down and reassemble a weapon in the dark and read with evident insight the emotional churnings of the unit.

Vermont deserves a representative in Washington who truly knows Vermonters. Becca Balint taught in a Windham County middle school for 14 years. Much more importantly, in this fraught era of U.S. politics, Vermonters can feel confident about her proven legislative skills — through experience in the legislative trenches, getting the job done.

Let's be clear, there is no on-the-job training.

Erik Esselstyn

North Montpelier

No More Liars

Thank you for "Congressional Countdown" [July 13], which illuminated the backgrounds, experiences and campaigns of the candidates for Vermont's U.S. House seat. One episode in particular stood out to me and helped me decide whom I will not vote for. Lt. Gov. Molly Gray did not vote in the four national elections between 2008 and 2018. Gray stated in a 2020 debate that she had "proudly voted for Hillary Clinton" in 2016. When pressed to apologize for speaking untruthfully (what we used to call lying), Gray said, "If anyone felt like I was being untruthful, I'm sincerely, sincerely sorry." The truth of a statement like Gray's that she voted for Clinton does not depend on the feelings of the hearer/reader of the statement.

We do not need another politician skilled in Washington, D.C.'s ways of prevaricating. I want a representative who can speak honestly, clearly and straightforwardly, especially when acknowledging mistakes and untrue statements. I will not be voting for Molly Gray.

Janet Rutkowski


Going for Gray

Chelsea Edgar's cover story about the Democratic candidates running to fill U.S. Rep. Peter Welch's congressional seat was a fair and interesting read ["Congressional Countdown," July 13]. I was left with the sense that we are lucky to have four smart, socially minded people in this race.

But I was also reminded of the critical importance that we fill this seat with someone who can stand up to the rough-and-tumble world of Washington, D.C., politics and who understands from experience that Congress works very differently than Vermont does. That's why former governor Howard Dean's description of Molly Gray as "thoughtful" but "tough as nails" resonated with me. So did the fact that Gray already has experience working in the Congressional office for which she is running.

Something else that became apparent when reading this article: Of all the candidates, Gray is the ideal age for the role. At 38, she has the career experience needed as well as the understanding of the demands (and anxieties) placed on families in which both parents work. But as a digital native, she also has an innate understanding of and ease with how today's real world operates — something sorely lacking in the halls of Congress.

I was not previously aware that Gray was a stepmother to two school-age children or of Gray's master's degree in international law and experience in humanitarian work, but those, too, seem generationally aligned and especially pertinent at this time.

This article helped convince me that Gray will be the one for whom I will cast my vote.

Mary Hegarty


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