Have You Considered Running for Office?

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Have You Considered Running for Office?

Posted by Karen Horn on 17 May 2016

Have you considered running for the Vermont Legislature? Almost one third of House members and almost all senators have served at the local level at some point in the past. Some serve concurrently as both local and state governmental officials.

The legislative session has barely ended and already the deadline for filing to run for legislative office is almost upon us: May 26 is the deadline for filing petitions and consent forms to appear on the primary election ballot.

This year will be a unique opportunity to ensconce the next generation of state leaders. Many incumbent legislators as well as the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House, President Pro Tem of the Senate, and Attorney General are retiring. The resulting shuffle of leadership in the state will be epic. As well, consider that in the last general election, six of 30 senators faced no opposition at all, and in three two-member Senatorial districts, only three people ran for the two seats. Of the 150 seats in the House, 67 were unopposed.

Neither Vermont’s democracy nor the vibrancy of debate is robust if more than one-third of its seats are uncontested. Vermonters often complain that legislators don’t listen to them, don’t address their issues, and don’t consider the financial constraints of working Vermonters. These accusations may or may not be true. What is true is that legislators have little reason to change their positions on issues if they are certain that they will not be challenged on the campaign trail or at the ballot box.

Senate candidates need to collect 100 signatures on their petition and consent of candidate forms; House candidates must collect 50 signatures. You can find answers to many questions regarding how and where to file a petition and consent of candidate form at the Secretary of State’s website, https://www.sec.state.vt.us/elections/frequently-asked-questions/state-candidates.aspx#faq-4378.

You have experience in government as a local official that can help shape Vermont legislative policy. Consider running for the legislature! Remember, the petition and consent forms are due by Thursday, May 26!