Sen. Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) hasn't formally been elected president pro tempore of the Vermont Senate, but he's already named a future chief of staff.
The role will go to Peter Sterling, a liberal activist who ran a labor-backed super PAC and lobbied in the Statehouse for single-payer health care reform.
"Peter's skill set is very well-rounded for the job," Ashe said, highlighting what he called a "comfort level with policymaking" and an ability to "draw a connection" between lawmakers and constituents. "I know he's an extremely high-energy person, very resilient."
"I hired Peter despite having been a registered lobbyist," Ashe said. "If I thought Peter was deeply part of the lobbyist culture, then it wouldn't have been something I entertained ... He's not part of the chattering class and the gossip crowd. Those would have been disqualifiers."
Ashe said he asked Campbell to authorize Sterling's hiring ahead of that date so that he could "be prepared" for the legislative session and "hit the ground running." Sterling has already worked several hours this week, Ashe said.
"Of course, if I do not win the pro tem election, Peter will likely be looking for some other opportunity," the senator said.
Ashe said that would change when he takes charge. He expects Sterling to be the sole employee in his office, other than interns, and to make just $61,000.
"I don't want to speak to salaries made by others," Ashe said, referring to Campbell's staff. "I looked at the role and responsibilities and thought what I was proposing was very fair and appropriate."
Disclosure: Tim Ashe is the domestic partner of Seven Days publisher and coeditor Paula Routly.