The Aug. 9 primary ballot features a number of well qualified women running for statewide office. I have had the privilege of working alongside two of them during my time in the Legislature—Kitty Toll, who is running for Lt. Governor, and Sarah Copeland Hanzas, candidate for Secretary of State.
I sat next to Kitty Toll in the House chamber and got to know her both as a legislator and as a person. She is a thoughtful, compassionate leader who knows the ins and outs of state government and is experienced at building consensus when it matters most.
As Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, it was Kitty’s responsibility to assemble a balanced budget that met Vermont’s diverse needs while staying within our means. Rather than taking a partisan approach, she instead turned to the expertise of each committee member, regardless of political affiliation. In that way she was able to pass budgets that had the full support of her committee and ultimately the approval of all 150 legislators.
Kitty was born and raised in the Northeast Kingdom, where she later taught middle school. She has unique insight into the needs and concerns of rural Vermonters and would be an excellent lieutenant governor — and governor, if the need should ever arise.
Sarah Copeland Hanzas chaired the House Committee on Government Operations, overseeing all legislation related to the Secretary of State’s Office. During her tenure, she helped break down barriers for Vermonters to register and vote, including expanding the automatic voter registration system and passing universal vote by mail.
This last biennium she led redistricting through her committee while simultaneously working on the thorny problem of pension reform. Remarkably, she helped get the pension issue to a compromise that passed on a series of unanimous votes—first on the stakeholder task force, then through the House (and Senate), and then again on a veto override (the first unanimous veto override in Vermont).
Many people know Sarah as a teacher, mother, small business owner and legislator who rose to serve in leadership. I have also gotten to know her through Friday pre-dawn legislative pick-up basketball games. Regardless of who showed up to play (mostly men, typically), it was Sarah who would bring the ball up court and skillfully run the offense.
Kitty Toll and Sarah Copeland Hanzas are respected, talented leaders who will serve Vermont well. Please join me in voting for them on or before the Aug. 9h primary.
David K. Durfee
State Representative, Bennington-3