Rep. Kitty Toll (D-Danville), the chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, announced Saturday that she will not seek reelection.
Her departure after 12 years in office will leave the House without one of its most experienced number-crunchers as it enters an era likely marked by economic scars caused by the pandemic.
In a statement, Toll said the decision was a difficult one and called representing the residents of Cabot, Danville and Peacham in the Northeast Kingdom "one of the biggest honors of my life."
"We have experienced tumultuous economic times as well as a divided political landscape, and I am humbled by the trust my district has placed in me to help navigate these waters," Toll said.
In an interview with Seven Days, Toll said the dire financial straits that the state faces made the decision to bow out tougher, not easier.
“This work is in my heart and soul,” Toll said.
But she also knows that her committee will likely work through the summer, and that after this extended legislative session she’ll be ready for a change. She noted that she recently participated in nine Zoom meetings in a single day.
At 60, she’s not sure what’s next, but possibilities include getting more involved in organizations in her community, perhaps by helping them with fundraising.
Toll’s announcement follows decisions from several veteran legislators not to run again, including Reps. Mary Sullivan (D-Burlington) and Johannah "Joey" Leddy Donovan (D-Burlington), who are seatmates in a district representing the Queen City's South End.
Candidates have until May 28 to qualify for the ballot in the August 11 primary. Due to the social distancing restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic, candidates do not have to gather signatures this year.
Toll comes from one of the state's most prominent political families.
She grew up on a dairy farm in Danville. Her mother, Catherine "Kate" Beattie, served in the House from 1965 to 1966. Sen. Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia) is her sister.
Kitchel chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee. Seven Days profiled the siblings in a March 2017 cover story, which noted:
Toll and Kitchel are almost certainly in a unique position in U.S. politics: two sisters chairing the powerful appropriations committees of both the House and Senate. As Vermont lawmakers determine how to spend the state's money next fiscal year, the Beattie family and tiny Danville (population 2,196) will have an outsize influence over the outcome.
Toll said she's proud of the work she's done to help rebuild the state's budget reserves to a healthy 15 percent, which will help the state weather the financial crisis better than it might have otherwise.