by Paul Dame
Many of the great Republicans we have serving in the legislature today got their start in politics at the local level. House Republican Leader Pattie McCoy has served as the Town Clerk in Poultney for several years. Assistant Leader Rob LaClair got started on the select board in Barre Town before serving his first term in the House. And before becoming one of Vermont’s most beloved Governors, Jim Douglas served as Middlebury’s Town Moderator.
In some ways, your local elected officials have a more direct impact on your day-to-day life than even the President of the United State does. These are the people who decide if your road is going to get repaved, what your property taxes will be, and whether or not you can build a shed on your own property.
As we have seen in the Republican wave that swept over Virginia, more attention is going back to these very local issues – especially our local schools. Even in Vermont we have seen more engagement with these previously unattended meetings, both from parents expressing their concerns – as well as newly-elected officials beginning to challenge the status quo.
The Emerge VT program run by Democrats exclusively for Democrats has been recruiting candidates to fill their bench with these usually sleepy, and often uncontested races for select board, school board, and other local offices.
I’ve been greatly encouraged to hear more and more conservatives who are wading into the waters of these local races. Our schools will be stronger and healthier if they have a balancing force to keep schools accountable on a number of issues.
If you want to be a part of this growing movement of Conservative voices running for select-board and school board you will need to hurry. Most towns require your petition to be submitted just ONE WEEK from today, on Monday January 24th before 5pm. Thankfully the Legislature waived the requirement to collect signatures, due to the spike in COVID cases, so this may be one of the easiest years ever to get on the ballot.
Local school and select boards usually are easier positions to serve in when you have a traditional 9-5 job. Instead of spending several days over 5 months in Montpelier meeting most of the day, most school and select boards rarely meet more than once a week, and it is usually in the evening after traditional work hours.
If you are interested in running for a local race, make sure to get involved with your local town Republican Committee. They may be able to help you identify the most important races, support existing candidates, or help you to become the candidate that your town needs right now.
The author is the chairman of the Vermont Republican Party