Rep. Tony Klein (D-East Montpelier) is retiring at the end of the year.
Rep. Tony Klein (D-East Montpelier), a 14-year member of the Vermont House and longtime chair of its Natural Resources and Energy Committee, is joining a growing roster of legislators retiring this year.
Klein, 69, said he and his wife, Jennifer Boyer, want to spend more time traveling and visiting their grandchildren.
“I decided that being dedicated to the Statehouse from January to May was getting a little tiresome,” he said. “I’ve done it 14 years. I’ve loved it.”
The charismatic former public relations executive has never been shy about sharing his opinions on the House floor, in the Statehouse cafeteria or in closed-door meetings with House leaders.
A staunch supporter of renewable energy, he cited Vermont’s growing portfolio of solar and wind power as a highlight of his career. Klein served 12 years on the Natural Resources and Energy Committee, including eight as its chair. But he said he was most proud of his work helping his constituents solve problems and being part of a long tradition of public service.
“The honor and privilege of walking into this Statehouse that’s been here since 1859 is chilling,” he said. “That never gets old.”
A former school board member, Klein didn’t limit his legislative interest to energy and environmental issues. He often exerted behind-the-scenes influence on education bills and was keenly attuned to other issues in play.
Klein said he knew when he returned in January for the 2016 legislative session that this would be his last year. Now that the session is nearing its May adjournment, he’s sharing the news. Candidates for the November election have until May 26 to file petitions.
Klein’s departure coincides with other key state leaders leaving their roles, signaling a sweeping change at the Statehouse next year.
Gov. Peter Shumlin, House Speaker Shap Smith (D-Morristown), Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell (D-Windsor) and Lt. Gov. Phil Scott are all leaving or running for new offices next year. Another House veteran, Rep. Tim Jerman (D-Essex Junction), announced his retirement Wednesday.
Prior to his service in the House, Klein worked as a lobbyist for electric utilities, Renewable Energy Vermont and Efficiency Vermont. He became a legislator in 2003, the same year as Smith, and became a close confidant to the future speaker. Leaving at the same time feels right, Klein said.
“It’s time to pass the mantle,” he said.
Klein said he hopes to remain involved in energy policy, but however that manifests itself, it won’t be at the Statehouse.
“This place got along without folks like me for hundreds of years and it’ll do just fine without me,” he said.