Originally published March 16, 2011.
In 1982, Billi Gosh worked to get Madeleine Kunin elected as Vermont’s first female governor — and she had her husband Bobby’s help. He organized an unlikely campaign fundraiser: a musical tour, including performances by a variety of local acts.
Kunin lost that year — to incumbent Richard Snelling — but won the next election and appointed Billi to chair the Vermont Commission on Women. “She’s got a lot of energy,” says Kunin, who considers the Goshes friends. “She cares passionately about the issues. She seemed a natural choice.”
It was around that time Billi began itching to run for office herself. Not surprisingly, many people around her also started nudging her in that direction. But when Gov. Kunin called and asked her to run for the state legislature, Billi declined. She knew Bobby didn’t want her to. “I’ve seen it ruin some marriages,” he says.
Instead, she committed herself to getting other women elected. Turns out, it suited her.
When Deb Markowitz first ran for secretary of state 13 years ago, she came to visit Billi to talk about her chances.
“I like being behind the scenes,” says Billi, who fundraises and networks for candidates.
More recently, she was helpful in the 2008 Democratic primary, as a passionate supporter of Hillary Clinton. “I stuck with her to the end, as I told her I would,” Billi recalls.