By Stephen Seitz
WOODSTOCK—Democrat Alison Clarkson, who is on her first term in the state Senate, is eager for more.
“I love the Senate,” she said. “I love this job, and I’d love to be returned to the Statehouse.”
Clarkson added working together is how things get done.
”Legislation is a team effort,” she said. “The challenge is to have bills taken up, but also voted on, and it takes a team effort to be effective.”
This year, Democratic incumbents Clarkson, Alice Nitka (Ludlow), and Dick MacCormack (Bethel) will face Republicans Randy Gray (Springfield), Jack Williams (Weathersfield), and Wayne Townsend (Bethel).
Economic development for Windsor County is one of her chief priorities, Clarkson said. She serves on the state Workforce Development Board and is vice chair of the senate Committee of Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs.
“There are so many things we need to be working on,” Clarkson said. “We have to expand workforce development.
Low income families have not been seeing a steady rise in income. Vermont salaries have not kept pace with with the rest if the country. That’s a real challenge.”
Pay equity is part of the challenge, she added.
“I believe in fair and equitable pay,” Clarkson said. “We have to get women’s pay equal to men’s. That alone could have a $1 billion effect.”
Clarkson said she’d like to see some reform in hiring practices.
“I’d like to see an end to asking for salary history,” she said. “That gives potential employers a chance to see if you’ll work for less because of being used to a certain level of income.”
Clarkson said she’d like to see more of a public safety approach to gun violence. ‘
“Domestic violence is seen as a family affair,” she said, “ and a lot of women are affected by that. There is also the problem of teenage suicide.”
The Vermont Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission Report reported in 2015 that, “Between 1994 – 2014 in Vermont, 57 percent of domestic violence homicides & 77 percent of the murder/suicides were committed with guns.”
Clarkson said she’d like to see more of an effort to promote early childhood education.
“We should spend more on childhood education,” Clarkson said. “That gets children started on the right foot. Such a move now could save $17 million in corrections later.”
Clarkson said she’d like to see renewable energy expand in Vermont.
“We’re just beginning to see the benefits of renewable energy,” she said. “The renewable clean energy economy has become a huge in Vermont. It’s poised for large growth in our economy.”
Regarding health care, Clarkson said, “I’d like to move to single-payer. We’ve had hundreds of years of free-market care which has failed to suffice,” adding that she was disappointed by the Shumlin administration’s failure to create a workable single-payer system.
When it comes to marijuana, Clarkson said, “I very much support a legal market. A legal market would ensure quality. But we do have more problems with alcohol than we do with marijuana.”
Before joining the Senate, Clarkson represented Woodstock in the House for eight years. She also serves on the Billings Parkx Commission, and has served on a number of boards and commissions in the past.