- Anne Wallace Allen ©️ Seven Days
- Sen. Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden)
The South Burlington attorney and former lobbyist has served in the 30-member Senate since he was appointed in 2014 to fill the seat of his late wife, Sally Fox, after she died of lung cancer. Sirotkin ran a public affairs and lobbying law firm beginning in 1981, so he was already intimately familiar with the halls of power in Montpelier when he accepted the appointment.
“I have been walking into that building every day of every legislative session for 42 years, so it’s time for a change,” Sirotkin said Friday.
As chair of the Senate Economic Development, Housing & General Affairs Committee, Sirotkin took a high-profile role this year in the legislature’s push to pass legislation aimed at easing the housing crisis in the state.
He was instrumental in reaching consensus with the House on S.210, the bill that will pump $20 million into renovating rental housing while establishing a rental housing inspection program.
He also helped draft a last-minute compromise on S.226, which provides $15 million to help build affordable homes for the “missing middle,” as well as a contractor registry and permit streamlining for downtown developments.
“When we finished the session, I thought it was very successful,” he said.
He said he’s also proud of work he and his committee did this year on economic development, investing in the state’s workforce and protecting unemployment benefits.
He agreed to be appointed to his wife’s seat to continue her legacy of addressing income inequality and consumer protection, and said he is proud to have advocated for these and other issues she cared about, he said.
Nearly a dozen members of the Senate announced they are not running again next year, including two members running for U.S. House of Representatives: Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint (D-Windham) and Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale (D-Chittenden). Others not running include Sens. Chris Pearson (P/D-Chittenden), Jeanette White (D-Windham), Cheryl Hooker (D-Rutland), Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington), Joe Benning (R-Caledonia) and Alice Nitka (D-Windsor).
While some lament the loss of institutional knowledge in the Senate, Sirotkin said there is an upside to an infusion of new blood.
“I personally feel that the legislature could benefit from some turnover, and that’s part of my decision — to make room for other people,” he said.