3 run for 2 seats in Vt. House
Manchester resident Kathleen James officially announced her candidacy for one of the two seats this month, running against incumbents Cynthia Browning and Brian Keefe. Though all three candidates emphasize their commitment to the Northshire community, each brings their own histories and convictions to the election.
Cynthia Browning, Incumbent Democrat
Batten Kill Watershed Alliance.
"[Serving in the Legislature] has been both the most satisfying and the most difficult work of my life," Browning said. "I hope that I have made a contribution to the welfare of all of the communities in the district through my work."
The legislator, who boasts a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan, notes that her "expertise and experience" provide her with a unique capability to analyze policy documents independently. That expertise is most often used in Browning's work with the House Ways and Means Committee, where she says that she has pushed for a simpler, more effective and more equitable tax code for Vermonters.
Since her re-election in 2016 Browning says that she has focused on controlling rising property tax rates, lowering the taxation of Social Security Benefits, and working to reform Vermont's tax code. The legislator has also played a role in collaborative efforts to improve internet service to rural areas, moderate the growth of electric bills, and ease requirements for school district consolidations mandated by Act 46.
"I work hard to analyze issues independently in developing and evaluating such policies and deciding how to vote on bills," Browning explained. "I know that everyone will not agree with my decisions, but I hope that they know that I always have reasons for my votes and I always need to hear criticisms, comments, and suggestions."
Going into the 2018 election Browning identifies tax reform, economic development, energy efficiency, and environmental protection as her top issues — emphasizing the need for effective policy over persuasive rhetoric.
"The most effective policies are based on economic and social realities, not ideology, wishful thinking, and special interest politics," Browning said. "I work to create and support policies that will make progress towards those goals in the most effective way."
Browning will once again be running as a Democrat, although her campaign will not officially begin until the Legislative Session has concluded. She does not plan to "raise and spend a lot of money," she said, noting that face-to-face contact with voters and mailings will play a large role in the effort. Throughout the year, Browning holds legislative 'office hours' on Saturday mornings at Arlington's Chauncey's Restaurant.
"I share the overall goals of the party for a strong and sustainable economy that benefits Vermonters at all income levels," Browning said, emphasizing the need for investments in health care, public safety, telecommunications, and environmental protection. "I have always put what I thought was best for our district above any considerations of politics, and if re-elected I will continue to speak the truth as I see it to those in positions of power, regardless of party."
Candidate Kathleen James officially kicked off her campaign on April 8, but she is no stranger to public service. James served as a board member for Zion Preschool, Northshire Community Foundation, Friends of MEMS and the Manchester School Fund. She was elected to the Manchester-Elementary School Board of Directors and committed many hours to MEMS and BBA as an involved parent.