John Malcolm has been the State Representative for the district for eight years, from 2005 to 2012 and believes there is still change that needs to be made. His previous experience gives him a wide variety of perspectives on what Vermont needs, he believes.
He has been a dairy farmer in Pawlet for more than 34 years since graduating from Williams College in 1974. He has received awards such as Vermont Dairy Farmer of the Year, Vermont Dairy of Distinction, Vermont Highest Herd Production and Best Milk Quality, and Conservation Farm of the Year. "I was also very active in my milk cooperative and some of its brand names such as Cabot Cheese," said Malcolm. "We worked very hard to promote not only Cabot and dairy products in general, but Vermont as well."
His political experience ranges from being a trustee of the Pawlet Historical Society, member of Pawlet's 250th Birthday Committee, a member of Pawlet's Board of Civil Authority, and Pawlet Justice of the Peace.
Malcolm is also a ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee and member of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee. Malcolm still has some issues that he hopes to work on as state representative.
"We need to continue to look
Malcolm has seen good things come out of the state and especially his district in the years he has been there.
"We are seeing young people going to Green Mountain College, for example, and staying here and starting up businesses," Malcolm said. "We are seeing people from out of state coming in here and starting agricultural businesses. I think over the summer CNN rated Vermont one of the highest start-up businesses per capita in the entire country and we see it right in this district."
Among the issues Malcolm hopes to address if he wins re-election is to provide incentives for homeowners, business and communities for weatherization and renewable energy projects, provide affordable and accessible health care, provide strong local agricultural and forest product businesses, thus creating more job opportunities and strengthening the Vermont economy.
Estella Leach, who ran against Malcolm in the 2004 election, knows the grind of running for State Representative and the experience she gained from that will help her during this election.
"It is extremely time consuming, but it's a lot of fun. My husband and I own an excavating business and we do all of our work in the summer," said Leach. "Running a campaign in the summer for somebody who works and makes all of their money in the summer is an extremely time consuming process and you have to be extremely efficient, you have to have a good team on board. We did it before and when you make that decision you have to give it 100 percent of your effort."
Leach is a born and raised local in West Pawlet and understands the grind the local community is going through.
"I have lived here all of my life. I grew up here. I was raised on a diary farm here. This is my home, these are the people I have known all of my life. It has a very special place in my heart," she said. "When I go out and I campaign and I see people struggling I want to help them. The people in my district, they are hard-working, determined people. They want to work, they want to make a living, they want to be independent. They need to have someone who has been there and lived that struggle to be a voice for them."
Among Leach's issues are healthcare, gas prices, and Internet and phone service.
"The Internet has been great for our district, unfortunately all of my district does not have Internet access, all of my district does not have cell phone access. They need these tools to do business in the modern world. My job is to get them those tools," she said.
Leach continued to say, "We pay the third highest electricity prices in the land-locked 48 states. We have some farms that want to go the renewables but when we are already paying 16 cents per kilowatt hour for our electricity and the transition to renewables is expensive. We have to facilitate that transition."
Leach is also worried about how the healthcare system is going to be funded.
"Now the legislature is looking at next session saying we've got all these new things. We have a $50 to $60 million dollar deficit in our budget, we have to find money to fund our healthcare scheme and in a rural district I have people who don't have jobs. We have to get people working before we get these revenues," she said. "As a person who is intimately familiar with the health care system, and it has its problems, I wonder how the people in my district are going to be affected and I can't get any answers. Where's the funding going to come from? We don't even know what coverage we are going to have."
When it comes down to the facts, Leach wants to make sure that citizens in her district are informed and are making educated votes.
"I am running as an independent and I just really hope that people will seek to get information to be informed voters and really look at how the legislature is directly effecting their lives."
Due to an increase in population a change to the district has occurred and now includes all of Rupert and the western two-thirds of Tinmouth. The election is set to begin Tuesday, Nov. 6.