by Peter Freyne
Kerm's out and Brooksie's in. It is a changing of the guard under the golden dome in Montpelier as veteran Democratic State Rep. Francis Brooks - first elected to the House when Reagan was president - was elected sergeant-at-arms on Thursday. That's the position that's in charge of running the Statehouse. Yours truly caught him for this shot as we were heading in for the Guv's presser and he had just been elected and was heading out.
Kermit Spaulding, Republican of Stowe, did a marvelous job keeping the building running in some kind of order and synchron- icity. But Ol' Kerm was more famous for his outside- the-building exploits i.e. his Ol' Vermonter deer-jacking legend. Unfortunately for Kerm, the last couple out-of-season bucks turned out to be Fish & Game decoys.
Francis Brooks was born in Washington D.C. in 1943 and educated at public schools in Alexandria, Virginia. He's a graduate of Norwich University in Northfield and picked up a masters at Clarkson. He married and settled down in Montpeculiar where he was a teacher at the high school until retirement.
Francis was elected to the legislature in November 1982 and arrived in the building at the beginning of the Ralph Wright Era. Speaker Wright was a high school teacher by trade, too, (in Bennington) and Ralph and Francis, two educators, worked quite well together despite their different styles.
As is obvious, Francis is African-American - rare, indeed, in lily-white Vermont, though none of the mainstream news stories reporting his election makes mention of that fact. Surely, he is the first black sergeant-at-arms in Vermont history?
Does the omission of a race-mention show progress? That in Vermont we've reached a point where the color of one's skin does not matter in any way whatsoever? That we have overcome? That in our state it is only about "the content of one's character?"
Different story with Barack Obama, eh?