On July 22, 2020

Musical chairs: four dems vie for state House

By Curt Peterson

Four residents of legislative district Windsor-1 (Windsor, Hartland and West Windsor) hope to win the Democratic Primary on Aug. 11. There are two open House seats: John Bartholomew is seeking his sixth term while Representative Zacharia Ralph is leaving the district. Their seats are “in play.” Paul Belaski of Windsor, Elizabeth Burrows of West Windsor, and Jennifer Grant of Hartland, join Bartholomew to round out the foursome.

With early absentee voting already underway, the Mountain Times asked the candidates to describe their qualifications and aspirations as prospective legislators.

John Bartholomew

John Bartholomew, 65, lives in Hartland with his wife Julianne and their daughter, Marta. Born in Philadelphia, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture at the University of Oklahoma, and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Oklahoma State University. An Army and Air Force veteran, he won the U.S. Public Health Service Meritorious Service Medal, the Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Medal, and the National Institute of Health Director’s Award.

Bartholomew currently serves on the Agriculture and Forestry Committee for the state.

He told the Mountain Times, “My commitment to community, environmental issues, fiscal responsibility and education is unwavering.”

He said taxing isn’t the solution for post-pandemic challenges such as budget shortfalls, climate change, food insecurity, opioid abuse, health care, social justice, education funding, transportation and struggling farms.

Bartholomew feels climate change will have “a disastrous effect on our economy” and deserves priority. Career training programs and universal health care would attract new businesses. But broadband internet and cellular access will require financial support.

He favors a face mask mandate, payroll tax-funded paid family leave, a legal marijuana market, reform of police practices and improved food security.

Health professionals and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should guide school reopening, Bartholomew said.

Paul Belaski

Paul Belaski was born in Vermont and has lived in Windsor most of his life. In 2019 Zach Ralph unseated him as Windsor-1 representative. He is the principal architect at Cotton Design Associates in Newfane.

A Windsor High alumnus, Belaski studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard School of Architecture. He said his career provides political qualifications. “I think my training as an architect, listening to needs, desires, financial capacity and dreams, then taking that information and trying to synthesize a solution to meet those requirements is a good background,” he said.

As Windsor zoning administrator he learned “how regulations … are formulated, written and interpreted,” he said.

Belaski worked on gun violence legislation, which was signed into law by the governor. He’s in favor of a mandated face mask requirement, and thinks schools could be opened for in-person learning if local resources and conditions permit, as long as teachers’ and aides’ safety is considered. “I would like very much to rejoin [the House] fellowship and strive for a Vermont that works for all its citizens,” he said.

Jennifer Grant

Jennifer Grant, 53, and her husband Rob Anderegg live in Hartland. Born in Vermont, she grew up in New Hampshire.

“I consider myself a New Hampshire native and a re-rooted Vermonter,” Grant told the Mountain Times.

She has a degree from Williams College and a Master of Science degree from Cornell.

Grant has no previous political experience. She wants to focus on three things in the legislature: Keeping Vermont citizens healthy, supporting small businesses and connecting generations among Vermonters.

She said having researched environmentally-friendly alternative biotechnologies, coordinated public health studies for Dartmouth Medical School, and taught basic ecology to children at Four Winds Nature Institute in  the town of Chittenden, she is prepared to serve.

Grant believes a specific face mask mandate is a good idea, and that in-person education should depend on conditions in local districts.

Grant also helped her mother run a retail shop in Enfield, New Hampshire, for 10 years; was executive director of Springfield (Vermont) Regional Chamber of Commerce, and served on the boards of Springfield Workforce Investment and the Greater Lebanon Chamber of Commerce.

Grant was also executive director of Windsor County Mentors, a board member at Bridges of Prevention (in New Hampshire), an active Woodstock Rotarian and member of several Hartland social organizations.

Beth Burrows

Elizabeth “Beth” Burrows, born in New Jersey, has lived in West Windsor for eight years, and has served on the local board of education, the supervisory union board, and was part of the ACT 46 study committee creating the Mount Ascutney School District, of which she is currently chair.

Following studies at Beloit, she earned anthropology degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

She said taxpayers can’t finance full recovery, which she believes is possible without causing undue pain to taxpayers.  She also wants to “reform and update” the way Vermont schools are funded.

“Biases are becoming dominating factors in our midst as we tend toward the divisive,” she said. “Racial, class, age, ability and gender biases are among many other ways to ‘other’ our neighbors.”

“I want to make sure that Hartland, West Windsor and Windsor are actively represented in decisions by keeping you informed, seeking out your thoughts, and participating on your behalf,” she wrote in a campaign publication.

Burrows advocates bias training for anyone working with students, a statewide ethnic studies curriculum, and diversity training for students.

Regarding facial covering, she favors local mask requirements over a state-wide mandate, unless worsening epidemic conditions indicate otherwise.

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