Wilson decides against re-election effort

MANCHESTER - Voters in the district that includes Manchester, Arlington, Sandgate and most of Sunderland will have at least one new name to check off on their ballots for state representative come November.

Jeffrey Wilson, 59, who currently holds down one of the two state representative seats in the election district, announced Tuesday that he will not be a candidate for re-election this fall.

"It's been a great six years, but now is a good time to concentrate on a few other things," he said in a phone interview from Montpelier.

Wilson, a Democrat, was first elected to represent Manchester in 2008, defeating long-term Republican incumbent Judy Livington. He won reelection twice, in 2010 and 2012, when the district was modified into a two-member district that added the towns of Arlington, Sandgate and the bulk of Sunderland. He represents the district jointly with Cynthia Browning of Arlington.

In an emailed comment, Browning said she was sorry to learn Wilson would not be running again.

"He has served his district well, and will be missed," she stated in the email. "But I know that he has other projects and opportunities to pursue and he has my best wishes in those endeavors."

Browning, also a Democrat, added that she was planning to run for re-election again this fall.

Before becoming a state representative, Wilson served as Manchester's town manager from 1986 - 2003.

Wilson also works as a vice president with the Transit Solution Group, which operates several railroads in Tennessee. He said that trying to juggle business and personal commitments, along with his work in the legislature, was a difficult balancing act.

"I have quite a few balls in the air and it's hard to manage all of them," he said. "I need to carve out a little more time to devote to the railroad business. There are a number of challenges and opportunities that are presently confronting us and I need to devote a little more attention and concentrate on that."

Wilson added that in addition to frequent trips to Tennessee, time spent in Montpelier was time spent away from his family, and with five grandchildren, he wanted to be able to spend more time at home.

He began thinking seriously about making this his last term in the Legislature earlier this year, and came to a firm decision a couple of weeks ago, he said.

Wilson has served on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which reviews and deliberates on most of the legislative bills involving taxing and financing. Working on that committee has been a great experience, he said.

He counted his work on a piece of legislation in 2009-10 that involved recalibrating the collection fees the state took out of money raised through the local option tax as one of his most memorable efforts. Trimming the state's percentage of collection fees helped save towns in Vermont which utilize a local option tax - as Manchester does - a considerable sum of money. In Manchester's case, that worked out to around $25,000 a year, he said. "I worked extraordinarily hard on (it), and it took a couple of tries to come to full success," he said.

Wilson said one thing he has learned from politics is to "never say never," and didn't completely rule out a return to the electoral arena at some point in the future, but that would not be anytime soon, he said.

"I truly loved the job and serving the folks in the (district)," he said. "I was pleasantly surprised by the caliber of the folks I worked with in the House. There are 150 of us, and they are all, with virtually no exception, good people, and just trying to do the right thing."

Wilson said he was announcing his decision now, before the end of the current legislative session, so that others who may consider running for the office would have time to plan for the effort. According to the Secretary of State's website, candidates who wish to run for a state representative seat and wish to have their names appear on a ballot need to file petitions no sooner than Monday, May 12, and no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 12. Candidates for state representative need to acquire at least 50 signatures before their petitions can be accepted.


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