Peterson: 69-year-old Newbie’s first year in the Legislature

Old dog doesn’t like new tricks of systemic racism, climate change, wealth redistribution

by Rep. Art Peterson

It’s been a long time since I’ve been called a “newbie”, someone new at a position. In my 69 years I’ve been an Army officer for 5 years, a telecommunications engineer for 43 years, a football coach for 15 years, and a volunteer in my community for as long as I can remember. I’ve been married 48 years this month, nothing new there, and I have 4 kids (3 live in Vermont) and 12 grandchildren (9 attend schools in Vermont) so I feel like an experienced parent. So being called new at something made me chuckle. Seeing the freshmen class of some 30 or so legislators, many younger than my own children, made me feel like the old dog I am. The question was, could I learn new tricks.

That question very much depends on what those “new tricks” are. My district, Rutland-2, is the towns of Clarendon, Wallingford, West Rutland, Proctor, and the east side of Tinmouth. I ran, and won, as a conservative Republican, and that is how I’ve chosen to legislate. Of course, the problem is that philosophy puts me at odds with about three-quarters of the 150 member House of Representatives. That has made my first year in the virtual statehouse a little rocky at times. Because I don’t buy into some of the pet causes of the Left, like systemic racism, climate change, and redistribution of wealth, and dared to question their existence I have had to endure some “counseling” about how to conduct oneself in the (virtual) statehouse. I’ve received great supported from my constituents and people across the state happy that someone has finally challenged these unsupported doctrines. So if these tired philosophies are the “new tricks”, folks, count me out! I’ll stick with what works: our capitalist system, personal responsibility, hard work, persistence, great attitude, making good decisions in life, trust the facts and not emotions.

So if these tired philosophies are the “new tricks”, folks, count me out! I’ll stick with what works: our capitalist system, personal responsibility, hard work, persistence, great attitude, making good decisions in life, trust the facts and not emotions.

– Rep. Art Peterson

So what have I learned during this past session? First, I’m impressed with the organization and attention to detail of the body as a whole. Procedures and protocol are followed strictly which gives everyone a chance to participate freely.

Second, those who work in state government supporting the legislature are outstanding and very knowledgeable in their subject area, and always willing to help.

Third, elections really, really matter. The majority party, in our case Democrats, control all aspects of what we do. Minority parties are playing defense the whole way, that’s just the way it is.

Fourth, it really is true that the ‘Devil is in the details’. Every word matters when reviewing bills, it can be an exhausting process reading and getting information about a bill but critical to making the right call on a vote.

And fifth, and lastly, we MUST meet in person to be fully considered legislators! Meeting via Zoom was necessary and worked but all us new folks were told almost daily how much we are missing due to the lack of physical presence in the statehouse. To sit in front of a computer screen and to try and make correct decisions that affect the state is very difficult. 

During my campaign leading up to the 2020 election I made the size, scope, and cost of state government the most important issue facing the state. Everything the state legislature does ultimately comes back to the question- what do we want or expect our state government to do? During our just ended session I tried to vote with that in mind. It wasn’t always easy as there are good things in almost every bill. Expansion of our state government is so easy to do with federal dollars flowing in due to COVID relief. I remain very concerned that 2-4 years from now we will have created systems and programs with federal dollars that will have to be continued and maintained with State funds. 

In 1969 as a 17 year old kid entering the United States Military Academy at West Point, I bought into the school’s motto of “Duty, Honor, Country”. I have tried to live my life with those three words as a guidepost.. My votes try to reflect those words. Unfortunately that has resulted in me voting “no” to more bills than probably everyone in the House. It’s not always fun being the Lone Ranger. It takes courage to stand up in the storm, to vote opposite of most, even when you know you’re right. Maybe that’s the ‘new trick’ I have learned.

Categories: Commentary

12 replies »

  1. “…voting “no” to more bills than probably everyone in the House…” THANK YOU — when the ethos of the legislators is to PASS LAWS, you can’t but vote no on most of it. When the constituents vote in some kindred spirits for you, the agenda may broadens to “…what laws are we going to repeal this session?…”,. You’ll have ample opportunity to vote YES.

  2. Art is a warrior. He represents his district very well. He also understands that you can win elections in Vermont running as a true Republican Conservative. I hear over and over from people all over this State, ‘We are tired of electing Republicans that vote like Democrats.’ Arts District does not have to worry about that!

    Sen. Russ Ingalls

  3. Thank you Rep. Peterson. It is in my opinion, a sad statement that people such as you are in the minority.

  4. Representative Peterson,

    You’re doing a good job, Kid. Keep it up.

    Says an old guy in Clarendon…

  5. THANK YOU as well, Representative. From one oldster to another, you are one of the few voices of reason and sanity echoing in the chambers of the State House now overflowing with people who are intent upon destroying Vermont and the entire nation.

    Don’t give up the fight & call upon us whenever you require back-up!

    • Thank you Representative Peterson [Art]. You are indeed a shining light in our state; keep up the good work, maybe it will ‘catch on’; we can only hope. You may feel like a lone voice, but you speak for many more of us than you know. 🙂

  6. Keep up the good fight Representative Peterson. I’m with you all the way. We are the voice of our districts. You represent yours well!!

  7. Send us a signal if the Dem/Prog Jacobins come for you — Vermont’s Green Pimpernel may have to come rescue you.

  8. Thank you so much for your service Rep. Peterson! I’m hoping for a hundred more conservatives like you in the Vermont General Assembly

  9. Thank you Representative Peterson. You are the tip of the spear and we need more like you in Montpelier. We need to get back to the People’s house to do our work and not let the “woke” crowd dictate what Vermonters must do. There is nothing wrong with saying “Gee, that’s a dumb idea” or bill.
    Thank you for your demonstrated and continuous leadership. We need more like you in the legislature. You need some help from more, like-minded, Newbie legislators…and remember – there is something wrong with being #2.

  10. Help is on the way Sir – hold the line and stick to your stated convictions – the road less traveled has done me well for decades – the current fight is larger than many could comprehend – it’s good against evil and God Wins…

  11. I hope Vermonters (of all stripes) realize just how lucky they are to have you as an elected representative. If there were just 20 more of your in Montpelier, Vermont would be heading in a very different direction. Best of luck with your reelection!

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