Sen. Brian Campion, Who Backed a Controversial Appointee, to Retire | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice


Sen. Brian Campion, Who Backed a Controversial Appointee, to Retire


Published May 20, 2024 at 3:12 p.m.

  • Kevin McCallum ©️ Seven Days
  • Sen. Brian Campion
Sen. Brian Campion (D-Bennington) announced on Monday that he will not seek reelection after serving in Montpelier for 14 years.

He joins a growing list of Democratic senators stepping down from the 30-member chamber after what many have said was a particularly difficult legislative session.

Campion recently voted to support Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s choice for secretary of education, Zoie Saunders. That put him at odds with most of the other members of his party, who said the former charter school executive lacked sufficient experience for the job.

Campion chaired the Senate Education Committee, which held a hearing on Saunders' appointment. He sided with two Republican committee members in a 3-2 vote that advanced her to the full Senate. In unusually blunt remarks on the Senate floor, he expressed sadness at the animosity her appointment had generated. After the full Senate declined to support her, Scott named her interim secretary, which requires no Senate approval.

“This has been an incredibly contentious few weeks … and personally I have never witnessed, in my 14 years in the building, character attacks toward what I consider a very, very good person,” Campion said.

Campion was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 before moving to the Senate in 2014. Serving as a legislator has been “the honor of my life,” he wrote in a statement. “Being an effective legislator requires working well with all of your colleagues, no matter their party, and I'm proud of having a reputation for doing this,” he said.

During his tenure, Campion, 53, served as chair of the Senate Panel on Ethics and vice chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.

He was particularly proud of helping address the water quality problems in the Bennington area, where groundwater supplies were contaminated by toxic PFAS chemicals from a local manufacturer.

He was proud of his efforts to address lead, radon and PCBs in schools; to improve literacy rates; and to expand access to higher education.

Others who've recently announced their departures after decades in office: Sen. Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia), 78; Sen. Bobby Starr (D-Orleans), 81; and Sen. Dick McCormack (D-Windsor), 76. Grand Isle Democrat Dick Mazza, 84, retired in April after 40 years in the chamber because he has cancer.

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