By Stephen Seitz
WALLINGFORD—Democrat Ken Fredette is one if the three candidates vying for the two seats in the Rutland 2 legislative district, comprising Clarendon, Proctor, Tinmouth, Wallingford and West Rutland. The other two are incumbent Democrat Dave Potter and incumbent Republican Tom Burditt.
“I ran for the House six years ago,” said Fredette. “I lost by 181 votes out of nearly 7,000 cast.”
Fredette has held plenty of local offices over the years, having spent 15 years representing Wallingford on the Rutland Regional Planning Commission and about 20 years serving on the school boards for Wallingford Elementary, the Rutland South Supervisory Union, and most recently the board for the Mill River Unified School District.
Fredette said education is one of his chief concerns.
“I’m in favor if Act 46,” he said. “I was promoting something along the same lines in 2006. The merger for Mill River was pretty seamless. It’s good for the kids, and frees up education professionals to focus on the kids.”
Elaborating in an email, Fredette wrote, “I do not cotton to the way things have gone in Montpelier for the past couple of years: Holding back monies approved by voters for school districts across the state, using ‘notwithstanding’ to skirt around existing law; last-minute deals cut by a handful of people behind closed doors; the vetoes and override votes, putting political posturing above needs of Vermonters on the ground.”
When it comes to increasing school safety, Fredette wrote, “Lock the doors. Seriously. When the shooting at Essex Elementary happened in 2006 we looked at building security at Wallingford Elementary. At the time classrooms could only be locked with a key from the outside, leaving the teacher out in the hallway with whatever the danger was, and with a key to the classroom full of kids. We remedied that right away. Now we only have one entrance to the building available once the kids are in for the day. Of course, locking the doors is not the be-all and end-all, but it’s a logical first step (albeit somewhat unfortunate as far as being open to the community is concerned).”
Fredette said he wouldn’t stop there.
“I would also like to have discussions around a federally funded program to use law enforcement and military personnel, active or veteran, and perhaps assigned (in the case of active) for a ‘tour of duty’ as resource officers in our buildings,” he wrote.
When it comes to gun violence, Fredette said he supports the recent tightening of the state’s gun laws.
“I find the approach taken by Vermont to stemming gun violence very measured,” he wrote. “For example, raising the age to purchase a firearm to 21 is not nearly as onerous as gun rights activists would have you believe when you know that anyone who has completed a Vermont hunter safety course or equivalent is exempt. I do not think banning any particular weapon is the answer, but having said that I don’t see any reason for bump stocks, and support their ban.”
When it comes to healthcare, Fredette said he is open to suggestions.
“Personally, I find the health care my wife and I have to be very good,” he wrote. “What needs improving is affordability. I would have to learn more about options there, relying on information from economic experts, but I am a quick study and am ready to listen and provide thoughtful comments.”
Fredette is a firm believe in renewable energy, to the point where he and his wife Kate are living away from the electrical grid.
“I see promoting renewable energy as a win-win for the environment and the economy,” he wrote, “but local opinion must be heard to keep projects in scale with their surroundings. And besides wind and solar, which seem to get all the press these days, we already have a substantial hydroelectric infrastructure in place, with opportunities to revive abandoned, smaller sites that are more economically viable now due to advancements in technology. Hydro should enjoy same supports as wind and solar.”
When it comes to the future of marijuana in Vermont, Fredette said the state should move cautiously.
“I can neither support nor oppose this without seeing solid language in the form of a bill,” he said. “Generating tax revenues is certainly tempting, but like gun laws we must look at all sides of the issue and take a thoughtful approach.”
Fredette recently retired from a career as a commercial driver. More about his campaign can be found at www.kenfredetteforvermont.com.