Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Molly Gray visits Bennington
BENNINGTON — Molly Gray, an assistant attorney general and Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, stopped by Wassick Tire Service on Sunday to personally meet supporters and advocate for the rights of Vermonters.
Gray has a long and experienced career in human rights law and public service. After graduating from the University of Vermont, she helped elect Rep. Peter Welch to Congress, and moved to Washington to serve as a congressional aide. She later returned to attend Vermont Law School and served as a law clerk to Peter W. Hall, a judge appointed under President Bush.
Now Gray serves Vermont as an assistant attorney general and teaches night classes at Vermont Law School where she trains the next generation of lawyers and leaders on human rights.
Born and raised on a vegetable and dairy farm in Newbury, Gray is a fourth-generation Vermonter. Gray's father and brother both served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
At Wassick Tire Service, campaign manager Samantha Sheehan and supporters set up a table and gave out lawn signs. Gray took the time to get to know each person attending. This socially distancing meet-and-greet is one of five that took this place in Orange, Windsor, Windham and Addison counties on Gray's weekend "whistle-stop tour."
"Whether you've been in Vermont for four days, four years, or in my case four generations, we are all Vermonters and that's the message we need to send," Gray said.
Gray is an advocate for strengthening the representation of rural Vermont in Montpelier through Zoom calls and telephone calls to ensure that government is accessible to all communities.
The campaign has gained extensive support all over the state with more than 600 donors from all 14 counties. As of July 12, the campaign has raised more than $200,000.
"If we want to see changes, we have to elect different people. The same people are going to yield the same results on economic justice, on social justice, on racial justice, and on environmental justice," Gray said.
For Gray, addressing the deep inequity that exists in Vermont is one of the first steps to fighting poverty and helping communities grow.
"A quarter of Vermont, geographically, does not have access to the internet in 2020, 70,000 households have been completely left behind," said Gray.
According to the 2019 census, approximately 11 percent of Vermont's population, or 68,000 people, live in poverty.
"In my mind, it shouldn't take a global pandemic for our senators or legislators to realize we have deep poverty and we've allowed Vermonters to go without childcare, without paid family and medical leave, without affordable housing," Gray said.
Key social issues in Gray's campaign also include a declining population and a lack of diversity.
"Here in Vermont, our demographic challenges are one of the greatest concerns that we have. The majority of counties around the state have more deaths than births, and it's not enough to say we're going to pay people $10,000 to move to Vermont," she said, a reference to the state's well publicized pay-to-move program.
"We have to focus on what are our greatest needs right now to support a generation that is committed to being here and working extremely hard," she said.
Vermont is also the whitest state in the country, with 94.6 percent of Vermont's population being white, according to the 2019 census.
"One thing we have to ask ourselves is why. Now is a moment for some deep reflection. We need to listen, we need to learn, we need to think about supporting and acting," Gray said.
Her supporters say the issues of her campaign have deeply resonated with many Vermonters who hope to see some real change implemented.
"She really wants the young people to come back and take care of their aging parents which I think is the greatest thing, you don't hear much about that anymore. We're trying to help with the campaign and getting signs out around town because we strongly believe in Molly. She can definitely do it. She's a strong woman and she's all about Vermont," said Kimalie Wassick.
Gray supporter Michael Palm says paid family medical leave is one of the biggest issues he appreciates about Gray.
"Coming out of the pandemic and as generations age, we want to be able to have the opportunity to support our families so that we don't have to worry about paying the bills first," Palm said.
Gray is one of four candidates for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. Also running are state Sens. Tim Ashe and Debbie Ingram, and Brenda Siegel, the chair of the Newfane Democratic Committee.
The primary elections will be held on Aug. 11.
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