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Letters to the Editor (8/5/20)

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Market Research

The article on the "outbreak" in Manchester was well written and balanced in many aspects ["False Insecurity," July 22]. I had been concerned with many of those same issues through my limited research, and I'm glad it brought them up. I think the story was objective and, while not flattering, it was truthful, which is more important than placating the public.

However, it was incorrect about one thing — an error not just in Seven Days but in other local papers. Reporter Derek Brouwer stated the farmers market in Manchester was closed on a Saturday. In fact, it's a Thursday evening market, from 3 to 6 p.m., and has been for years. The Arlington Village Farmers Market, which I manage, is Friday from 4 to 7 p.m.

Jessica Roberts

Arlington

Not That Old

Just a quick note to say that the Chazy Fossil Reef on Isle La Motte is around 460 million years rather than the 480 million stated in your very lovely piece about us [Vermonting: "Shrine and Dine," July 8]. Years ago we started out by saying 480 million, but in recent years the New York State geologist suggested that it was more like 460 million. So now we're busily trying to correct our original mistake of some 20 years ago.

Thanks very much for the great piece on Isle La Motte and for Seven Days in general!

Linda Fitch

Isle La Motte

Fitch is president of Isle La Motte Preservation Trust.

Gray's Flawed Voting Record

The role of privilege and connection in the story of Molly Gray's ascent ["Fast Ascent," July 29] in the lieutenant governor's race is amply demonstrated by her failure to vote for 10 years.

Her supporters are willing to overlook this flaw while anointing her the future of the fossilized Democratic Party. Gray claimed she was not proud of her lackluster voter participation and that President Donald Trump's election was a "wake-up call."

Gray's own statement suggests she needs to spend a few more years learning about the importance of voting and exercising that right to vote before she seeks public office. Someone who is unable or unwilling to participate in our democracy at the most basic level surely casts doubt on her commitment to democratic principles.

Ginny McGrath

Burlington

Siegel Speaks From Experience

[Re "When Reform Is the Norm," July 22]: I learned about Brenda Siegel and her activism last year. It was then that I discovered a genuine advocate with the right idea on how to handle the opioid epidemic.

Brenda's sincerity stems in part from her personal struggle. Losing a brother and a nephew to opioids must have been a massive challenge to overcome. Now Brenda is running for higher office to bring her knowledge and character to Montpelier.

To combat an epidemic that has weaved its way through our brave little state, we will need a bold approach. Brenda offers just that: With rehabilitation tactics and justice reform, in lieu of cracking down on opioid users as criminals, we can heal Vermont. As lieutenant governor, Brenda will be able to rally enough support for these techniques to be applied so that they can work.

Brenda supports a living wage, health care as a human right, increased broadband access and other progressive stances on issues. Additionally, Brenda is a tireless advocate who has lobbied for change in both Vermont's capital and in Washington, D.C.

It is my hope that, with Brenda as our lieutenant governor, we will be able to push for our state to do better in the categories in which we need help the most. As a young and disabled taxpayer, I support Brenda Siegel in her run for lieutenant governor, and I hope you will, too.

Asher Edelson

North Bennington

Ashe 'Embodies Rational Progressiveness'

[Re Off Message: "Gray, Ashe Take Heat During Democratic Lieutenant Gubernatorial Debate," July 16]: Tim Ashe is one of the most brilliant, perceptive and well-read students I have encountered at the University of Vermont over the past 50 years. More importantly, he has the kind of maturity, sense of balance and fairness that make him qualified to serve as lieutenant governor of Vermont.

As pro tem of the Vermont state Senate, he has acted in a principled, balanced, compassionate manner. He has shown the kind of leadership that embodies rational progressiveness. He has worked tirelessly for the elderly and working and middle classes, while keeping in mind the importance of housing and decent wages, while paying attention to issues of clean water and power.

He deserves the support of Vermonters for lieutenant governor, and he is ready to step in as governor if needed, without on-the-job training.

Richard Sugarman

Burlington

Chittenden for Chittenden

I am happy to support Thomas Chittenden in his bid for Vermont state Senate ["Senate Scramble," July 22]. The residents of Chittenden County, and the rest of the state, deserve a real Vermonter representing them in Montpelier, and that's Tom.

As our district continues to grow more diverse and our needs become many in this challenging time, we need a champion like Tom in the Statehouse. He knows that working families in Vermont deserve a fair deal and that education, housing, affordability, climate change and social justice are all issues that need to be addressed. Tom is the quintessential civic-minded Vermonter, serving on the South Burlington City Council, University of Vermont Faculty Senate and in various other volunteer roles. His commonsense leadership, commitment to his community and unparalleled grasp of the issues at hand make him my choice for Vermont state Senate.

I urge my neighbors to vote for Chittenden on August 11.

Scott Goodwin

Essex Junction

What Lewis Leaves

[Re "The K Chronicles," July 29]: As tributes continue from across the country, we realize how much of an American nation builder the late John Lewis was.

He has left his mark on the American political and civil rights landscape. America and the world have lost a great son who made a remarkable difference in so many lives, and his legacy will live on.

Congressman Lewis placed civil rights and the American people before himself. Black and brown people and, indeed, the entire country owe a debt of gratitude to this icon. He was an outstanding and accomplished politician and fought for equality and justice. He carried on the work of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Lewis delivered the 2007 commencement address at the University of Vermont, where he also received an honorary degree. That was his second visit to Vermont; he was here in 1964 as part of the student nonviolent coordinating committee, a role in which he inspired student activism in the United States.

The longtime Georgia Congressman returned to Vermont in fall 2019 to address a full, enthusiastic house at the Flynn Center. With his passing, I am sure the audience was even more moved to have witnessed this memorable evening when Lewis partnered with Andrew Aydin, coauthor of his book March.

The late Lewis vividly reminds us all of the civil rights era. He has taught us and inspired us in so many ways. This country is better today than when he found it.

Patrick Brown 

Burlington

Gray's Support Is Justified

After reading the article "Fast Ascent" [July 29] about Molly Gray's remarkable growth in support for lieutenant governor, I was prompted to review the lieutenant governor candidates' debate on Vermont PBS.

It was clear that Gray stood head and shoulders above all the candidates.

The two longtime state senators also running have been condescending and snarky, but Gray kept to her positive message.

It is no surprise that her ascent has been justifiably swift.

Gray's qualifications and experience, as well as her fresh energy, make her our best candidate for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary.

Maurice Mahoney

South Burlington

Policy Is Prohibitive

A year ago, I wrote a letter about the racial bias resulting from the Seven Days book review policy [Feedback: "Racist Review Policy?" February 27, 2019]. You replied, essentially, "We have Black friends." 

At a time of radical, needed change, large and small, all over, yet another white "part-time Vermont" author has been reviewed ["Unsentimental Journey," June 24]. And though François Clemmons was profiled in a cover story ["Good Neighbors," January 8], there's been no review of his memoir Officer Clemmons, written by a gay, Black Vermonter. It deserves the attention.

What does "part-time" mean? In most cases, property owner, right? Ross Gay is a wonderful Black poet who is at the Vermont Studio Center frequently, as well as Bread Loaf. Is he not a part-time Vermonter? This isn't a policy that shows the most or the best of Vermont. Wouldn't something akin to "with a strong Vermont connection" be wonderful?

Places like VSC and Vermont College of Fine Arts bring writers and artists from all over the world, of all identities, here. Many come as visiting lecturers, visit repeatedly, do significant work here and contribute to the culture of this state. Chelsea Green and Green Writers Press are Vermont-based and publish writers of all sorts. This is part of Vermont literary culture.

Profiles I'd love to see: Mount Island magazine, which was awarded the 2020 Lucy Terry Prince Prize for rural poets of color, and VCFA's Ukamaka Olisakwe, who lives here and has a new book out in England. 

Patrick Smith

Burlington

Editor's note: Seven Days is one of the few remaining Vermont media outlets that regularly publish book reviews, but the paper has limited resources for literary coverage. For 25 years, we've limited reviews to published Vermont authors — that is, authors who live in Vermont or very close to the border. That includes some part-timers and the occasional writer in Plattsburgh, N.Y., where the paper is distributed. Neither race nor property ownership is a consideration.

Ashe Is the Leader We Need

[Re Off Message: "Gray, Ashe Take Heat During Democratic Lieutenant Gubernatorial Debate," July 16]: I am writing to state my strong support for Tim Ashe in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.

Tim and I began working together when I was chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and he was appointed to chair the Senate Finance Committee. He and I knew we had to find ways to work together, which turned out to be surprisingly easy and productive. Tim works incredibly hard, he thinks creatively, and he's not afraid to take risks in order to advance issues he cares about.

In just a short time, our working relationship turned into a friendship — something of real value in politics.

As I think about the challenges that face us over the next two years, I am grateful that someone of Tim's experience and vision is running for a leadership position. He provided steady guidance in the early weeks of the pandemic and has always worked on issues of importance to Vermonters — to name just a few: New Americans, Vermont workers (especially those on the front lines of the pandemic), homeownership (especially for young home buyers), racial justice, mental health, paid leave, broadband access, pre-K-12 education and higher education, and climate change.

In fact, I can't think of an issue I care about that Tim hasn't worked on and made a difference.

We need strong and experienced leadership now more than ever. Please consider voting for Tim Ashe for lieutenant governor.

Janet Ancel

Calais

Ancel is a Democratic state representative from Calais.

Ingram Is 'Just What We Need'

[Re "When Reform Is the Norm," July 22]: I'm writing to express my support for Sen. Debbie Ingram, who is running to become the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in the upcoming August 11 primary. Debbie and I have been friends for years, and she is an outstanding leader.

Chittenden County residents have been fortunate to have her representing us in the Senate, and our state would be fortunate to have her skills and experience leading us as our lieutenant governor.

In her four years in the Senate, Debbie has demonstrated her leadership on health care reform, affordable housing, education, a livable wage, child poverty, equal pay, racial justice and LGBTQ rights, among others. She collaborates with other legislators to build consensus and move forward on these issues that are critical to building Vermont's economy and infrastructure.

Before earning a Senate seat, Debbie served on the Williston Selectboard for six years, negotiating and addressing a myriad of local issues. In addition to her work on the selectboard and in the Senate, Debbie has served as the executive director of Vermont Interfaith Action, working with Jewish, Christian and Muslim congregations on issues of shared social concern, such as health care and affordable housing.

She is experienced, compassionate, creative, well informed and super smart — just what we need at this time in Vermont!

I hope you will join me in voting for Debbie Ingram.

Julie Cadwallader Staub

South Burlington

In for Quinn

I am writing this letter in support of Ember Quinn, who is running for state representative from Milton, Chittenden-10 district.

Some of the things I value most about Ember are her honesty, her ability to connect, her intense curiosity and her strong desire for equity. Ember's vocal and loving presence in the Milton community, in both the schools and in the streets, has paved the way for those who often have been rendered voiceless in the community to be heard. Her commitment to listening to anyone who wants to engage with her with a compassionate and thoughtful ear would make her an ideal candidate to represent the town of Milton. Ember is committed to hearing from her community and being their voice at the state level.

Her platform is one of progressive policies that are vital to the community, state and nation at this time. She will be an excellent representative who is invested completely in her community and will work tirelessly to represent the people.

Jennifer Knowles

South Burlington

Ashe Is 'the Complete Package'

[Re Off Message: "Gray, Ashe Take Heat During Democratic Lieutenant Gubernatorial Debate," July 22]: I've served with many speakers of the House and presidents pro tem of the Senate. Each has had his or her unique skill set.

But Tim Ashe has been the complete package: steady in difficult moments, inclusive and able to juggle an endless number of issues in his mind.

He has the respect of every senator, regardless of party, because he treats everyone fairly and lets every senator have a voice as we write legislation.

The way he has helped lead the state during the pandemic speaks volumes about how ready he is to be Vermont's next lieutenant governor. From the very first day of the state of emergency, he's communicated literally every day with the public through his live videos and with the Senate to make sure we were able to meet Vermonters' needs during the shutdown. Despite the sheer volume of what Tim confronted as a leader, he stayed positive and focused.

I've also watched Tim mentor newer members of the Senate, making sure they'll be ready to step up into the leadership roles themselves. Tim always talks about the Senate being a team, and his actions confirm it.

I encourage you to join me in voting for Tim Ashe for lieutenant governor.

Dick Mazza

Colchester

Mazza is a Democratic state senator representing the Grand Isle District.

At Students' Mercy

Reopening college classrooms unacceptably risks Vermonters' safety [Off Message: "Vermont Issues Guidance for Returning College Students," July 7]. 

Flooding Vermont with tens of thousands of students, many from states with rampant coronavirus, is a bad idea. Social science, corroborating common sense and experience, shows that 18- to 24-year-olds are the likeliest segment of the adult population to engage in risky behavior. Focusing on recent disease spikes, the New York Times reported on July 31 that young people in Greenwich, Conn., partied, spread coronavirus and failed to cooperate with contact tracing. VTDigger.org reported on July 23 that University of Vermont students doubt their classmates will comply with public health restrictions or contact tracing. 

UVM will rely on three community protection measures, all based on wishful thinking. First, they'll test students upon arrival and tell them to quarantine, after which UVM will require periodic testing. Second, students will pledge good behavior, subject to discipline for violations. Third, contact tracing and quarantines will limit outbreaks. Every stage relies on the judgment and discipline of the age group least possessed of these things. Dorm residence rules, hard to enforce on campus, won't apply off campus. Once COVID-19 appears, the pledge will deter cooperation with contact tracing, since that means exposing classmates to consequences. 

UVM misplaces its reliance on testing. UVM will use a saliva test, prone to false negatives. An Australian study found a 13 percent false negative error rate. Even were the test sufficiently reliable, it only triggers control measures that are not.

Seth Steinzor

South Burlington

Gray Is the Right Leader for LG

[Re "When Reform Is the Norm," July 22]: Molly Gray has the commitment, the integrity, the experience and the intellectual curiosity to justify making her our next lieutenant governor. Molly's responses to the question about "defunding the police" show a degree of thoughtfulness we need, not committing to a phrase without considering the consequences fully.

As a farmer, food producer and Vermont agricultural advocate, I am also impressed by Molly's background and her understanding of the importance of Vermont agriculture to our economy, our consumers and our region — as well as recognizing the hard work Vermont farmers are undertaking to reduce their water quality impacts and improve the rural environment.

Molly will be the right person to have in the office of lieutenant governor as Vermont emerges out of the disruptions that result from this coronavirus pandemic response to a "new normal."

John Roberts

West Cornwall

Warren Is Ready

[Re "Five Candidates for Five Sisters," June 24]: As a former Vermont staffer for Bernie Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign, I understand deeply the need to elect politicians who care about justice and equity. In the midst of police violence, a global pandemic and one of the worst economic recessions in our nation's history, it is more important than ever to lift up leaders who have both the experience and values to lead our state.

I am excited and immensely proud to endorse and support one such leader, Jesse Paul Warren, running for the Chittenden 6-5 state House district. Jesse has dedicated his entire professional life to the betterment of his neighbors.

His experience heading the statewide reelection campaign of Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, working as a legislative associate in the Vermont Statehouse, serving as a staffer for House Democratic leadership and founding the nonprofit Democracy Creative — a nonprofit dedicated to bringing people together to find creative solutions to the problems facing our democracy — clearly demonstrates a commitment both to progressive values and the South End.

I hope all South End community members will join me in supporting him in the upcoming election. Together it is possible to create a truly just and equitable Vermont.

Abbie Penfield-Cyr

Underhill

Ashe Gets the Job Done

[Re Off Message: "Gray, Ashe Take Heat During Democratic Lieutenant Gubernatorial Debate," July 16]: As two state senators with more than 25 years of combined legislative service and observation, we honestly believe the state of Vermont owes Sen. Tim Ashe a debt of gratitude. His work ethic and leadership skills have been nothing short of remarkable during these challenging times. Just ask any senator of any party or perspective, and we are absolutely convinced they will immediately agree.

His steady hand and ability to work openly and collaboratively have truly benefited us all. His fairness and laser focus on the needs of Vermont's working families have clearly made his tenure as Senate president pro tem one of the most productive and efficient in recent memory. From minimum wage to gun safety to reproductive rights to protecting the environment and more, no one will dispute that his unique leadership skills — without seeking the limelight — made it all happen, and with the highest degree of professionalism and civility. 

Ginny Lyons

Williston

Michael Sirotkin

South Burlington

Lyons and Sirotkin are Democratic senators representing Chittenden County.

Marlboro 'Magic'

I echo the concerns about the lack of statewide coverage on the demise of Marlboro College [Feedback: "Whither Marlboro?" July 8]. I am a 2010 graduate of Marlboro. While I am happy to say Vermont was my home for four years, I'm more thankful that living in Vermont changed the way I will live the rest of my life, as a citizen, an academic and a businessperson. 

When I heard that Marlboro was being gifted to Emerson College, I was disheartened. Education is not something to pursue for its beauty in Boston; it is a stepping-stone in a system that permanently handicaps students' and professors' mental well-being. The physical property of Marlboro is the key to the magic of learning; the loss of the campus will erase this unique American experience and reduce Vermont's national footprint. 

Throughout my time as an alumnus, I have seen the president and trustees exhibit poor judgment in terms of their fiduciary responsibilities and recruitment. The inability to attract just 300 students from around America is baffling to me, especially as a businessman with a self-funded company. Any one of us would have been fired from our positions had we exhibited such lackluster results. I am truly flabbergasted that the Emerson merger/Marlboro closure has gone this far. I urge a thorough review and all means possible to stop this sell-off of a vital element in Vermont's cultural, economic and intellectual heritage.

Antonio Iaccarino

Boston, MA 

Experience Matters

[Re "Civil Dispute," July 29]: I am writing in strong support of Rep. Bill Lippert for reelection to the legislature — as a nurse, friend and colleague and as a woman who ran in a primary election for state legislature when the male incumbent didn't want me to.

Rep. Lippert chairs the House Health Care Committee on which I serve. While Vermont and the nation continue to struggle with a health care crisis as access challenges and costs increase, the pandemic has laid bare the problems we policy makers have grappled with for years. I have learned it takes a significant amount of time to fully understand the complexities between public and private payers, state and federal law, and the needs of all of the stakeholders. We need Bill's extensive health care experience and leadership. 

Bill cares about all Vermonters. Even in times of disagreement, including with me, he demonstrates over and over again the ability to genuinely listen, consider differing points of view and provide space for those voices to be heard. He is an excellent chair and facilitator. Serving with him has been an honor and an education.

I support the primaries as a key element in a fully participatory democracy. They engage our communities on issues important to them and provide additional opportunities to get to know the candidates. I understand how challenging they can be. It would be a huge loss to not bring Rep. Bill Lippert of Hinesburg back to the Statehouse. I wholeheartedly endorse him. 

Mari Cordes

Lincoln

Cordes is a Democratic state representative from Lincoln.

Siegel: The Voice Vermont Needs

[Re "Fast Ascent," July 29]: Today I voted for Brenda Siegel for lieutenant governor. The reason for that vote: Vermont is in a crisis, along with the rest of our country. This crisis goes beyond the current pandemic. It is a crisis of wealth disparity. The U.S. has the greatest wealth disparity in the world. The massive transfer of wealth to the top 1 percent of our country started in the 1980s. It has now amplified the suffering of Vermonters and Americans in this pandemic. 

America and Vermont have one of the worst and most expensive health care systems in the world. Medicare for All would cut health care costs in half. 

America has fallen due to our lack of investments. We invested twice what we are investing today in our infrastructure in the 1960s. Some things, such as roads, education and rural broadband infrastructure, are better socialized.  

I am often shocked and dismayed that some people call these "progressive" talking points. On the contrary, these are the attributes of a civilized society.

Brenda is a voice for the voiceless. During my gubernatorial campaign, I developed respect for her because of her tireless fight for those in need. Right now, Brenda is the voice we need in Montpelier. I have faith in our democracy. We will rebuild into a better Vermont and a better America.

Christine Hallquist

Hyde Park

Hallquist was the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor.

Longtime Ally Backs Ashe for LG

[Re Off Message: "Gray, Ashe Take Heat During Democratic Lieutenant Gubernatorial Debate," July 16]: Tim Ashe and I share a love for the Red Sox, but that's not why I support him for lieutenant governor. I'd support him even if he were a Yankees fan. Here's why.

As the Senate's leader, Tim performed as the best captain a team could have. When things go well, he steps back, letting Senate team members enjoy the limelight.

In bumpier patches, he steps up to take the hits, freeing senators to get back to productive work.

Tim and I have worked closely together for a decade. Renewable energy, minimum wage, expanded health coverage, public education, broadband expansion — we have partnered on all of these.

During COVID-19, he's shown the leadership we're going to need in our next lieutenant governor: inclusive, good communication. Steady, steady, steady.

And, finally, it says a lot to me about Tim that he frequently visited Orange County, my county, long before running for this statewide office. Not for political meetings, but to meet with mental health workers, teachers and hospital employees to see how we could best support people on the ground. And he delivered!

He is ready for this.

Mark MacDonald

Williamstown

MacDonald is a Democratic senator representing Orange County.

Call Out Klar

It is disturbingly interesting that Seven Days will call out overt racism in [Emoji That: "Unmasked," July 29] but include a more insidious statement from a major-party candidate for governor in its front-page article ["Running in Circles," July 22] without missing a beat. I am referring here to GOP gubernatorial candidate John Klar's assertion, "We don't have enough Black people here to really have a systemic kind of racism."

What?!

There is no threshold for the percentage of the population that is Black in order for there to be systemic racism. The threshold required for that is the percentage of ignorant white folk. Perhaps Seven Days can/will use the cover of objective journalism for not calling this out in the body of that article, but how is that statement not worth at least its own emoji? And why haven't Gov. Phil Scott, Vermont GOP state chair Deb Billado and every sensible Republican in the state denounced this man? He has no chance of winning the primary, much less the general election, but he is running under their banner and his words reflect on their party.

Since no one else has done so, I'll say it: Mr. Klar, from one cracker to another, you are stale.

Bill Young

St. Albans

Editor's note: The Emoji That section on the weekly Last 7 page highlights news from the past week that Seven Days did not cover. It's a news summary with some attitude. In contrast, the quote from John Klar referenced above appeared in a straight, reported story about the gubernatorial contest. It would be inappropriate for Seven Days to editorialize in such a story, which invites readers to make their own judgments about Klar's quote.

A 'No-Vote' for Not Voting

I was dumbfounded to read in a recent Seven Days article that LG candidate Molly Gray had not voted, at all, from 2008 to 2018 ["Fast Ascent," July 29]. While I wonder how someone who professes to want to be the new face of statewide leadership could sit out Barack Obama's elections, I am shocked that she opted out in 2016.

When Donald Trump announced his candidacy, he equated Mexicans to rapists. He later bragged about assaulting women. A top contender for LG met that with, "Meh, no big deal."

Gray is quoted as saying the 2016 no-vote was a "wake-up call." This is insufficient for a candidate seeking statewide office. I can attest that it is possible to vote from Congo, Rwanda and Kenya. It is not convenient, but it is not difficult. In 2016, I took my young son with me to send off my Vermont ballot from Nairobi. He thought we were going "boating" and was disappointed to learn we were instead trying to stave off a disastrous presidency.

A no-vote in 2016 was a vote for Trump. This is not bold Vermont leadership. It is apathy that has set this country back, the consequences of which will resonate for years.

I have no affiliation with any campaign in Vermont, but I encourage Vermonters to espouse the best of democratic principles on August 11. A candidate who could not be bothered to vote in 2016, after Trump showed his true colors, is not yet fit to lead.

Lewis Mudge

Charlotte

Mahnke Will Work Hard

While I am a Maine resident and unable to vote for Erhard Mahnke in the upcoming election, I want to express my support and reasons why he deserves your vote ["Senate Scramble," July 22].

I have been friends with Erhard since the mid-1970s, and during that time he has come to the Maine coast many summers for his yearly vacation. He does not seem to leave his work home with him when he does come. He is either writing a grant or working on a budget. He has been a tireless advocate for his work with affordable low-income housing. I have always marveled at his work ethic and ability to remain positive as he engages in numerous work-related issues. He is passionate but not mean. He is well informed and willing to go toe to toe with adversaries, even if it includes commonsense compromises to achieve the best outcome. His work hours always seem to eclipse his compensation for his work, some of which included writing the grants that furnished his yearly salary.

Mahnke knows his way around the Statehouse, so he will not require as much time or on-the-job training to come up to speed. "Pound for pound and inch for inch those terriers can fight" was how my affable charming fighting terrier was once described. You will get your money's worth in the legislature by voting for Erhard Mahnke for the state Senate.

David Hurley

Swanville, ME

Holcombe Understands School Challenge

I am writing to express my support for Rebecca Holcombe for governor ["Running in Circles," July 22]. While there are many issues on which Rebecca has expressed her positions with which I agree, one of the most critical is the opening of schools during the pandemic.

For many of us, it is frightening to consider what this means to our community: the children, the teachers and the rest of us who will be potentially exposed to the pandemic to a much wider degree. While Gov. Phil Scott has done a good job of managing COVID-19 so far, neither he nor his staff has the knowledge or experience to manage the safe opening of schools. As Rebecca has pointed out, the health department is overstretched, having lost positions in recent years, and as we go into a period that requires greater contact tracing, testing and public health management, an individual with intimate knowledge of our education system and the developmental and health needs of our children is paramount.

As secretary of education under Scott and as a teacher, administrator and Dartmouth College professor, Rebecca understands what is at stake for our children, teachers, school personnel and the community for school openings to go right. In addition, if you know Rebecca's support for universal childcare and family leave, you know she fully understands the critical needs of families at this difficult time. Please vote for Rebecca Holcombe for governor.

Karen Ryder

South Burlington

Ashe for LG

[Re “Fast Ascent,” July 29]: It's pretty extraordinary that a group of political operatives are attempting to foist their choice upon Vermont voters to lead us in the years ahead. A choice who hasn't voted here in the last 10 years. A choice who has spent minimal, if any, time in the chamber — much less the building — she now seeks to lead. A choice who was part of the political hit squad putting someone in jail rather than getting mental health needs met. (A decision against a local prosecutor's judgment, I might add, which didn't square with a bunch of dudes’ idea of justice, rather than actual justice.)

It's everything regular folks hate about politics — a group of elites selecting a candidate. Yes, there is a frustrating lack of women in high office in Vermont, but these same folks have helped maintain that disparity by not suggesting that their own long-serving benefactors (Sen. Patrick Leahy/Rep. Peter Welch) step aside and let a new generation step up.

It'd be a joke, if it weren't so insulting. But it'll be tragic if, during this incredibly anxious time, their arrogance took out a true leader who's helped the state navigate this treacherous moment.

Tim Ashe has stuck his neck out on any number of issues and has earned the trust of Chittenden County voters for the last 12 years, as well as that of his colleagues, in the place he seeks to lead. I hope the rest of Vermont considers that, too.

David Lines

Burlington