For weeks, House Speaker Shap Smith (D-Morristown) has expressed ambivalence over whether to seek a seventh term in the Vermont House. Citing competing family and professional obligations, Smith said it might be time to pass the gavel to a new leader.
But on Thursday morning, just hours before nominating petitions were due, Smith filed for reelection at the Morristown municipal offices, according to town clerk Mary Ann Wilson.
“In the end, I realized I really like the job and I thought that there was work left to be done on education, education finance, health care and health care finance,” Smith told Seven Days. “And I really wanted to finish that work, if my constituents give me the opportunity.”
Despite his public hemming and hawing, Smith said he still feels a passion to serve.
“I wanted to make sure that I was going to be all in, and I was not willing to do the job unless I was going to be all in,” Smith said.
Throughout his speakership, Democrats have enjoyed overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate. This fall, Republican leaders hope to focus on making gains in the legislature, but Smith said he feels cautiously optimistic about his party’s chances.
“I think we have a good slate of candidates,” he said. “I think it’s always hard to hold as strong a majority as we have over a number of election cycles, and I take seriously that the Republicans are going to target House and Senate races. I feel good about the candidates we have, but I think it’s going to be a tough election cycle.”
An attorney with the Burlington law firm Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew, Smith first won election to the House in 2002 and assumed the speakership in 2009.