By Jacob Knipes
Four candidates — two Republicans and two Democrats — are seeking two House seats for the Rutland-2 district, covering Clarendon, Proctor, Wallingford, West Rutland and a portion of Tinmouth.
Incumbent Republican Reps. Arthur Peterson and Tom Burditt are facing Democrtats Ken Fredette and former legislator Dave Potter.
Arthur Peterson is an incumbent Republican candidate from Clarendon. He ran in 2020, where he was elected to Rutland district 2’s second House seat with 2,192 votes.
Peterson explained that his main motivation for running again was to get more experience in the Legislature, with a large portion of his first term spent virtually.
“Probably the biggest motivation was that in my first term, the last biennium, the first year was all done by a Zoom,” Peterson said. “So really we only had one year in-person and I just felt that wasn’t enough experience to really gain some traction in the legislature.”
A 1973 graduate of West Point and an army veteran, Peterson said one of his main legislative goals would be to create a state tax exemption for Military retiree pay.
“That will ensure that military retirees are here and will stay here, and will attract military folks who retire to the state of Vermont. They are usually good workers, and would be an asset to our state. As long as we tax their retirement pay, we are going to limit who comes here for military retirement, and I feel that is not helpful for our economic growth,” Peterson said.
Peterson views stimulating economic growth with rising prices of essentials and supporting law enforcement while curbing drug activity as the main problems facing Vermont as a whole. Peterson is also against the legalization of marijuana, making clear he would always vote against it, as well as certain climate change legislation.
Above all else, however, Peterson said he would consider government size with every vote.
“I think that is the primary thing Vermonters have to get straight. What do we want our government to do, how much do we want them to do, how much should be left to the private sector.”
Peterson emphasized that if reelected, he will continue to act as a conservative presence in the Legislature.
“I am a strong conservative voice that will make sure their personal liberties are not infringed. That will always vote for the sanctity of life. That will always vote to support law enforcement and limit the size, scope and cost of state government.”
Tom Burditt is an incumbent Republican Candidate from West Rutland, He has served Rut-2 as a member of the House of Representatives since 2010.
In seeking a seventh house term, one of Burditt’s main motivation is to continue his work with the Internet Crimes Against Children taskforce, an initiative Burditt was turned on to by his son, a Seattle police officer.
“Over the last five years I’ve actually gotten five bills passed that were geared towards Internet Crimes Against Children, but I have one more that I want to get done,” Burditt said. “I don’t know if it will get done this year or not, hopefully by the time I get done in Montpelier whenever that is, but that is to expand [the ICAC] taskforce.”
Aside from ICAC, Burditt described his legislative focuses being on the “usual suspects”, namely education and budget legislation. Burditt also emphasized continuing his work on the House Judiciary committee with matters of racial justice and protecting domestic abuse victims.
On the level of Vermont as a whole, Burditt is concerned with statewide employment shortages and declining population numbers. Burditt explained how his legislative experience would help boost legislation to help these issues.
“I know people harp on term limits all the time for politicians, but there is something to be said for someone with experience that knows the system and procedures to get things done,” Burditt said. “And I think if bills come along that could definitely help the workforce, it’s gonna be not only people with experience in the work world but people with experience in the political world to get things pushed along to help our businesses that are basically starving from not having employees.”
Beyond political experience, Burditt said his blue collar background will continue to give him a unique perspective in Montpelier.
“I’m one of the few blue collar people up there. I mow lawns for a living in the summertime, and you know I’ve been a blue collar guy all of my life. I think it is a perspective we need more of up there…just the blue collar common sense perspective of looking at it from the common Vermonter’s point of view.”
Ken Fredette is a Democratic candidate from Wallingford. A perennial candidate, Fredette most recently ran in 2020 where he fell short of a house seat with 1,853 votes.
In choosing to run again, Fredette explained how he wanted voters to have a wide array of options.
“I felt that people deserve to have a full array of choices,” Fredette said. “So I threw my hat in again because I believe I am a good choice and I would do a good job. So I wanted to give that opportunity for people to vote for me.”
Fredette cited a long history of public service as his qualification for the House seat, including stints on the Rutland Regional Planning Commission and on the Vermont School Board Association, where he served as president.
Fredette highlighted how his time on the VSBA gave him legislative experience.
“When I was on the school board and was an officer on the VSBA, I spent a lot of time under the golden dome. I worked with legislators a lot on education issues and actually have drafted a few resolutions that went through the VSBA that became laws,” Freddette said.
Fredette’s legislative priorities are focused primarily on climate change, an issue that he feels should be treated more urgently. Fredette would also work towards support for potential workforce members, with a particular focus on affordable housing.
“If you don’t have a decent shelter to go home to at the end of the day, everything else kind of falls apart. For example, you can get excellent healthcare at a hospital or a clinic or something, but if after that’s all taken care of you are back out on the street it all unravels,” Fredette said.
Through it all, Fredette plans to stay true to a mantra of focusing on children’s interests first, particularly with supporting public education,
“If we take care of the children, everything will fall into place. That has always been my mantra. It’s all about the kids. They’re gonna be the ones running the show and we want them to be happy, productive citizens,” Fredette said.
Also running in the Democratic race is former rep Dave Potter. Potter could not be reached for comment for this story but according to his bio on legislature. vermont.gov, he’s a Democrat from Clarendon, born in Proctor and educated at Rutland High School, and then the University of Vermont and the University of Southern California. He then taught at Rutland High School for 31 years before retiring. He was also member of the Clarendon Select Board for 14 years; and a member of the House: 2005-2006, 2007-2008, 2009-2010, 2011-2012, 2013-2014.