WILMINGTON >> Ann Manwaring is looking at a lot of extra free time.
The state representative who has served in the House for a decade now will not be seeking reelection.
"Ten years has been a long time. I just felt it was time to step down," said Manwaring, whose district covered Wilmington, Whitingham and Halifax. "I got some other things I can do to keep working in the community. We'll see how that comes together."
Plus, she has accumulated a big stack of books she wants to read. Or, she said she might consider not buying new ones.
While unsure of how just yet, Manwaring would like to continue to address the state's education funding model which relies on property taxes. And she doubts she's done with government.
"I need a little break," she said. "Certainly, in my six years on Appropriations Committee I believe I did my very best to make sure that all of the money that we included in expenditures in the bill were having a very positive impact on people's lives, that they mattered, that the outcomes mattered."
Questions coming up in that committee ended up driving Manwaring to look more closely at education.
"Money that flows out of the Education Fund is all about how tax rates are set, not at all about outcomes about kids," she said. "That's the next big chunk of work that needs to be done; connecting that big chunk of money to the work that needs to be done."
Manwaring was happy to see this funding being discussed in the Committee on Education. Previously, it was only addressed in the committees on Appropriations, and Ways and Means.
What Manwaring will miss the most about Montepelier, she said, are the people.
"It's been a wonderful journey. I've had the benefit of being with some of the most interesting people, not just legislators but the whole array of staff, committee staff, lawyers and the Joint Fiscal Office. There's just a lot of confident, good-thinking people involved in all of this up here," Manwaring said. "I've enjoyed it all, almost all of it. I didn't get as much done as I wanted to."
With only one month to go in this legislative session, she said her goal is to "do nothing bad" acknowledging that's in the eye of the beholder.
"We're past time where new bills can be admitted. We'll be looking at senate bills," she said. "I don't know if I have a particular goal."
Manwaring will try to keep the conversation "alive" and "pointed" as she can, she said, adding that more voices are needed.
Passage of the education law Act 46 could help with Manwaring's hope to change talk around education. But it still remains to be seen, she said.
Rep. Laura Sibilia, whose district covers Dover, Readsboro, Stamford, Wardsboro and Searsburg, said she worked with Manwaring when she was executive director at the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce, now known as the Southern Vermont Deerfield Valley Chamber of Commerce. But they've also been collaborating since Sibilia was first elected.
"Prior to that, for years I used to serve her coffee at Dots in Wilmington and we would discuss and debate the local state and national issues of the day," Sibilia said. "She has always been highly responsive to her constituents and even non constituents in the broader Deerfield Valley. She has been a tireless advocate for education of Vermont's students and transparency in funding."
Considering Manwaring not only a valued mentor but a treasured friend, Sibilia said she is grateful to have been able to serve with her in the House over the past two years.
Contact Chris Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.