By Stephen Seitz
WOODSTOCK—As Senate President pro tempore John Campbell is stepping down, Rep. Alison Clarkson (D-Woodstock) is stepping up. Clarkson recently announced her bid to replace Campbell, who has taken a position as executive director of the Vermont Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs.
“I have looked at three Senators who have served very well, and I would not run without one of them stepping down,” she said. “I now represent Reading, Plymouth, and Woodstock. Representing the 56,000 people in Windsor County will be different. I look forward to serving our state in a different capacity,” Clarkson said.”
If elected, Clarkson will join Sen. Alice Nitka (D-Ludlow) and Dick McCormack (D-Bethel). “We’re the largest county in Vermont [by area], and the only one with all three senators on the Appropriations Committee,” Clarkson said.
This year’s legislative session ended without the much anticipated legalization of recreational marijuana. The two chambers of the Legislature had widely differing proposals. The Senate would have established a commercial system, licensing growers and retailers, but barring home cultivation. The House considered a plan to allow people to grow up to two plants for their own personal use.
“The House was warier than the Senate, after hearing ‘just say no to drugs’ for 50 years,” said Clarkson. “We had to have civil unions before we could get marriage equity. We had no plan for all the stakeholders coming in. We do our best work when we’ve thought about an issue from every angle. The Senate created it out of whole cloth. On the Ways and Means Committee, we wanted much more of a Vermont scale.” Clarkson currently serves on the Ways and Means Committee. She also serves as chair of the Legislative Council Committee, as a co-chair of the Women’s Caucus and chair of the Windsor County Caucus.
As to her legislative priorities, Clarkson said, “My priorities are serving the people of this state. Tropical Storm Irene turned all the priorities upside down. We have an astonishing county. I’ve lived here for almost 25 years, and there’s no problem we can’t tackle if we bring everyone together. I believe government expresses how we take care of each other.”
According to Clarkson’s website, before moving to Vermont, she was a theatre producer in New York City for 15 years, producing plays for Broadway, off-Broadway, and off-off-Broadway. She founded the non-profit New York Theatre Workshop. In Vermont, Clarkson has chaired Pentangle Council on the Arts, has been a board member of the Vermont Arts Council, a member of Billings Park Commission and is on the board of Sustainable Woodstock.