NEAL P. GOSWAMI
BENNINGTON -- Democrat Dale Gerity said she is seeking a seat in the Vermont House to be part of a change she believes is needed at all levels of government.
Gerity launched a campaign for one of two seats in Bennington's 2-2 House district. The incumbents, Democrat Ann Mook and Republican Mary Morrissey, are both seeking re-election.
Gerity, a crisis counselor with Starting Over Strong Vermont, said she is a political newcomer, but that is what government needs.
"There needs to be some kind of change happening in all of our government. I'm very concerned about candidates that have had long-term, ongoing, 12-year reigns," she said. "It's not a healthy environment. I would like to be a part of that change. There needs to be new blood in the government."
Gerity, a carpenter, said she has also worked at the Bennington School for 14 years, and with a local homeless shelter.
"I've spent most of my life helping people make their lives better. That's why I've decided to run for this office. I want to be able to represent Bennington in a new look and a new way and be more aware of the town's needs," she said.
In Tuesday's primary, Gerity tallied 147 votes out of the 218 Democratic ballots. Mook received 163 votes. Morrissey, on the Republican ballot, received 43 votes out of the 43 ballots cast.
If elected, Gerity said she would like to help the state and local communities plan for disasters. She said her work as a counselor following Tropical Storm Irene has highlighted the need.
"We need to be more aware of the possibility that there could be another big storm coming any day," Gerity said.
Meanwhile, Vermont and the country are moving in the right direction on the issue of health insurance, according to Gerity. She said she supports the mandate included in federal health care reform that requires individuals to have health insurance.
"I believe that every Vermonter needs medical insurance. That's a necessity," she said. "I think Vermonters will be more healthy, happier and get their physical and mental needs met better. It's absurd to have people without heath insurance and not have any way of keeping themselves healthy, going without medications. I'm in agreement with Obama, for sure."
Gerity said she also favors Gov. Peter Shumlin's plan for a single-payer system in Vermont.
The tax code should be reformed at the state and federal level, according to Gerity. She said the wealthy should be paying higher taxes than low- and middle-income people.
"The middle class and the people who are poor and just getting by, should not be taxed or not be put into a bracket where they are the same as the wealthy. I believe the wealthy should be taxed higher. If they have a $250,000 income they should be taxed on that income," Gerity said.
Gerity said she would support "stronger restrictions on firearms." A comprehensive course on gun safety should be required to purchase a firearm, she said.
"I would like to see them having to be involved in some programs," she said. "Really make it tough. Have everyone go through this licensing process where they really understand that this is a very dangerous weapon."
Gerity said she plans to campaign door-to-door in the district and reach as many voters as possible ahead of the Nov. 6 election.