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Support Balint for the U.S. House

Who we send to Congress to replace Congressman Peter Welch will be decided this August in the Democratic primary. The candidate that wins is likely to be our next representative, and so the race that is heating up right now is the one to focus on.

It is crucial that we elect the person most qualified to represent and serve us. The choice is crystal clear: Becca Balint---an experienced legislator with a sterling reputation. Becca Balint, our President of the Senate pro tem, who was unanimously elected to that position by her colleagues, from every political persuasion. Becca Balint is universally respected, trusted, and relied on to do the work.

The last five years taught us the enormous significance of character. In thinking about who to vote for, ask yourselves these questions: Who has dedicated her life to public service, first as a teacher, then as a legislator? Who is authentic, candid, plainspoken? Who has a reputation for building consensus and coalitions? Who is unafraid of the difficult conversations we must have in order to reach positive solutions for the people of Vermont? Who has voted in every election since she was old enough to vote, fully recognizing that it is a privilege and civic duty to vote in a free country?

Ask yourself, as you scrutinize the candidates: Does this person grandstand? Is she authentic? What has she done that has prepared her to represent us in Washington? Does she offer opinions and a pedigree, and ask for your vote based on what she believes, or on what she has actually achieved?

In every test, Becca Balint emerges as the clear choice.

The challenges we face as a state and as a nation have never been greater, and the divisions among us have never been deeper. We are a nation in the midst of multiple crises: a pandemic in its third year, rampant economic inequality, a climate on fire and our democracy on the edge of collapse. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to elect an individual with experience, integrity, passion, and a deep understanding of the complex issues and problems we face here in the Green Mountain state. At this perilous moment, I trust Becca Balint to fight for us in Washington.

Amelia W. Silver

Pownal

Longest war is the fight against drugs

The war in Afghanistan is “the longest war in US history” only if you ignore the war on drugs. That global campaign, often involving military aid and military intervention, to reduce the illegal drug trade in the U.S. has been going on for 50 years. Richard Nixon made the term “war on drugs” popular in 1971 and declared drug abuse “public enemy number one.” By associating the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, a war on drugs allowed Nixon to arrest and harass leaders of both groups who opposed him. By 2001, the ACLU reported that the 792,000 black men then in prison, largely for drug offenses, equaled the number of men enslaved in 1820. The drug war became known as “the new Jim Crow.”

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Our long drug war is not close to succeeding, despite a 2021 estimate that we had spent $1 trillion on it. Our failed war has also wreaked havoc in many parts of the world. The immense profits available from supplying banned drugs to US users fueled rich and powerful drug cartels, inducing even peasants to cultivate coca and marijuana. The problem afflicted not only Columbia and Mexico, but Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela, and Peru. Illicit drug profits weakened state institutions in both Colombia and Mexico, causing widespread corruption and assassinations of public officials. For example, between 2002 and 2019 an estimated 264 mayoral candidates and former mayors were murdered by criminal organizations in Mexico.

It should be clear after 50 years of failure that the punitive prohibition approach of the war on drugs won’t work. Several countries have shifted toward drug treatment and decriminalization. Portugal’s new national drug strategy includes decriminalizing possession of all illicit drugs and expanding public health prevention and treatment services. This approach has been designated a “model of best practice” by the President of the International Narcotics Control Board.

Only a handful of countries have so far followed Portugal’s lead. But it is crystal clear that it’s time for the US to take that bold step and end our otherwise endless war on drugs.

Magdalena Usategui

Shaftsbury

BCOA sends thanks to supporters

Bennington County Open Arms has been so grateful for the many supporters of our mission over the past few months. Since we thank those who work with us often off-the-cuff, we sometimes miss an organization or two, not to mention our many supporters. We could not do this without all of you, including:

The Tutorial Center, Southwestern Vermont Supervisory Union, Community College of Vermont, Sunrise Family Services, Bennington County Head Start, and Burr and Burton; staff of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, Vermont Department of Health, and local Reach Up and Department of Labor offices; Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services, Community Asylum Seekers Project, Vermont Community Foundation, Bennington Rotary Club, Bennington Peace and Justice Center, Bennington County Regional Commission and Quiet Valley Quilters Guild; GNAT, Bennington Banner, and CAT-TV; The Dorset Church, Second Congregational Church, Bennington Interfaith Council, St James Episcopal Church, Al Hidaya Islamic Center, First Congregational Church Manchester, and Federated Church of East Arlington; Bennington County state legislators; landlords who have been kindness personified; our many, many individual donors of goods, money, and even a sheep; our resettlement agency partners at ECDC; our volunteers who provide their valuable time, talents, ideas, support, hours of driving and organizing, and unflagging good cheer; and especially our new neighbors whose faith in us may waver but doesn’t fail, even when we drop all the balls.

You have all helped us navigate the bumps in the road and inspired us to move forward since the beginning.

Anandaroopa and Grace Winslow

BCOA coordinators


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