Fred Miller seeks Bennington-1 House district seat
For Fred Miller, "ongoing frustration" with political issues at the local level drew him into the Bennington-1 House district race.
"I've got a little bit of energy left in my body," said the retired manufacturing and residential treatment worker. "To keep our Vermont the way I feel it should be."
Miller, a Pownal native who is running for the House seat as an independent, describes himself as both a "rural guy" and a constitutional conservative.
Miller will share the November ballot with two other candidates: current Pownal Select Board Chairman Nelson Brownell, who won the Democratic nomination without opposition in the primary election, and Jim O'Connor, who has run for the seat twice before. Longtime incumbent Bill Botzow chose not to seek re-election.
"I believe in term limits, and definitely, I will be limiting myself," Miller said. "You won't see me trying to hang onto this seat for 10 or 15 years."
Miller said he thinks a lot of people move to Pownal because they like it is the way it is, he said.
"Other people kind of come in and immediately start seeking to change things," he said. "I'm basically interested in holding that line, and walking a few things back that I think need to be walked back."
Specifically, he said he's interested in local control, as it relates to things like Act 46, enacted in May 2015.
The act identified the preferred model of governance for the state's schools as a unified union school district responsible for pre-K through grade 12 education. The act created three phases of voluntary school district merger and one non-voluntary phase, to be mandated by the state Board of Education and implemented July 1, 2019.
"Forced consolidation is not right," Miller said of Act 46. "And the state is going to plow forward anyway, and force the consolidation." He said he's interested in tackling that issue in the legislature.
Cost savings in schools do need to occur, he said, but "maybe from the top down," he said. "Leave our small schools and our teachers and staff alone," he said. "The secretary of education and her staff, maybe they could go."
He said he'd like to see a solid economy return to Vermont, along with a manufacturing base. That would help a lot with high property tax issues, he said.
Miller said he's also concerned about solar panels along Vermont's highways, as the greatest asset to the area is its rural scenery.
"I believe VT must move away from the warm and fuzzy 'renewable' energy goals we are currently pursuing, which very much threaten our greatest resource, the VT landscape," he said in an email.
Miller said he believes a lot of local legislation "comes close to touching on the Constitution," including S. 55, a gun-control measure signed by Gov. Phil Scott earlier this year that banned high-capacity magazines and inspired protest by gun rights groups.
"That was passed rather hastily, and I don't personally believe it does anything at all to keep our children safer," he said. "That was feel-good legislation."
In the email, Miller said both S. 55 and Act 46 violate the United States and Vermont constitutions.
He also said in the email that he is against the individual mandate for health care in Vermont, which requires all Vermonters purchase health insurance by 2020.
It was adopted after Congress eliminated the penalty for the federal individual mandate as of 2019.
"I find it absolutely inappropriate that the VT legislature has chosen to resist at all costs the efforts of our elected president," he said in the email. "I will certainly vote NO on any legislation that is obviously introduced for the sole purpose of resistance."
Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.
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