BELLOWS FALLS -- Three candidates will vie for two nominations during the Windham-3 State Representative Democratic primary election set to held on Tuesday.
The three-way race between local Chris Moore and current representatives Carolyn Partridge and Matthew Trieber will decide which two will go on to represent the district at the Statehouse in Montpelier for the next two years.
All three candidates have government experience and a fair amount of local support going into the primary.
Moore is in his 10th year of law practice as an attorney in Bellows Falls. A former Rockingham Selectboard member and later chairman, he said he is an eighth-generation Vermonter with some specific proposals for how to turn things around for the district.
"I grew up here locally in Rockingham and I have watched the youth leave due to a lack of jobs and an increased cost of living," he said in a telephone interview. "I want to effect change. I want to reverse that trend."
One of the specific proposals he has in mind is making the designated Bellows Falls downtown free from sales, room and meals taxes as a way to boost the economy and encourage more business. He said retail stores, lodging facilities and restaurants and other eateries would benefit greatly.
Moore, a father of three children in the public school system, also wants to try to keep educated youth in the area.
"Vermont's greatest export is its young people," he said.
But he is quick to say he will not forget about the 90 percent of the district's constituents that are more than 60 years old.
"We are the second-oldest state in the country [behind Maine]," he said, adding that Vermont needs to do a better job of providing senior housing in the area following the closure of Atkinson Street's McGirr Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Center in April.
Most locals must now travel 30 to 40 miles to visit their elderly loved ones, Moore said.
He mentioned he thinks Democratic voters will see his legal education as a reason to nominate him.
Moore earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Northeastern University before getting his Juris Doctor from Roger Williams University and a masters of laws in intellectual property law from the Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, N.H.
Partridge, chairwoman of the House Agriculture Committee, has been serving in the Legislature for the past 14 years and is seeking a nomination to her eighth term.
"Over those years I've learned a lot about how to access resources for my constituents," she said while in Fairfax caring for her granddaughter. "I really enjoy serving the people of the district."
She first got into politics due to her desire to see health care reform following a terrifying incident with one of her children.
In the 1980s, when her family did not have any health insurance, her son nearly died of a ruptured appendix because he exhibited only flu symptoms. It was only when a doctor told her to get her son to a hospital that they realized how serious his condition was. The boy stayed in the intensive care unit for three days and the whole endeavor left a lasting impression on Partridge.
"I just didn't want anyone to go through that experience," she said. She became a strong advocate for single-payer health care in the mid-1990s and still is. "The reason I ran is because I want to make sure all Vermonters were able to receive quality and comprehensive health care they can afford, including affordable pharmaceutical drugs."
She said she has spoken with many citizens during her re-election campaign that have resorted to cutting their blood pressure or diabetes pills in half because of high costs.
"That really concerns me," she said.
She said she is very policy-minded and worked hard to pass The Working Lands Enterprise Act. She said she wants to remain a part of an experienced team that always balances the budget despite no balanced-budget amendment in the Constitution of the State of Vermont.
Partridge, who has worked as a farmer and a seamstress in the past, is a 1971 graduate of New York University, where she majored in oceanography and minored in mathematics and biology.
Trieber, like Partridge, has a scientific background, with a bachelor's degree in earth and space sciences from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. After graduation, he started work in environmental consulting in New York and in Brattleboro before opening Atkinson Street Environmental, LLC, in 2008. A current member of the Rockingham Selectboard, he ran for a seat in 2010 looking to make a change.
"I had been one of those guys trying to get involved in the community," he said, "rather than sitting on the sidelines screaming."
He joined the board with a one-year seat in March 2010 and in August found himself running to expand his term when member Bob Thomson (a few months into a three-year term) resigned. That is how he came to serve his current term.
Trieber serving on the board and working in environmental consulting when State Rep. Mike Obuchowski (D) assumed a job in Gov. Peter Shumlin's administration. When this left a vacancy in the Legislature, Trieber was one of the individuals to give a speech explaining how they would do a good job in Montpelier. Trieber and two others emerged as the top three following a secret vote by caucus voters and Shumlin appointed him from that short list.
Shumlin, however, did not need to adhere to the recommendations and could have chosen anyone he wanted.
"I've learned a lot in the time I've been up there," he said. "The most important reason (I'm running) is because of my love of the community."
He said the most rewarding aspect of the job is helping the district's people and try to improve their quality of life. He now serves in the House Committee on Human Services.
Trieber said the district is a unique one, as the short drive to New Hampshire -- where there is no state income or sales tax -- can be crippling to local businesses. He said he has voted against any sales tax increase in Vermont, believing that would further cripple enterprise.
"I got my political training on the Selectboard," he said. "I'd like to continue the work I started."
He added that his work his environmental consulting work never interferes with his duties in Montpelier because most of his business is done with the Legislature is out of session from May to January.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.