BRATTLEBORO -- Sen. Peter Galbraith, D-Townshend, announced Monday that he will not be seeking a third term in the Vermont Senate.
Galbraith was first elected as one of Windham County's two state senators in 2010, and in the last biennium he served on the Natural Resources and Finance committees.
Galbraith is the former Assistant General of the United Nations in Afghanistan and he said he decided not to seek re-election to devote more time to his family and to continue his work overseas.
Galbraith has also served as the first U.S. Ambassador to Croatia and he was a cabinet minister in East Timor's first transitional government.
"Vermont has a citizens' legislature, and while serving in the Senate, I have continued my international work," he said in a release. "In recent months I have become increasingly involved in an informal effort aimed at finding a political solution to Syria's Civil War, working with Syria's Kurdish and Christian minorities to help them develop strategies to best protect their communities. Reluctantly, I have concluded I cannot do this and still devote the necessary time to my work in Montpelier."
He has not been appointed to an official position in Syria but said he has been working independently with the communities in the country and with non-governmental organizations.
Galbraith said he was undecided about running again for the Senate as the last session ended.
He traveled to Syria in May and said his work there intensified, causing him to pull out of the upcoming Democratic primary.
He said he made the final decision over the last few days.
"I want to spend more time with my family, and with my kids, and when you are traveling up to Montpelier all the time it is not so easy," he said. "Vermont has a citizen's legislature and I knew I was not going to make a career of it. Four years is a perfectly good amount of time and it makes sense to give other citizens a chance to run and serve."
Over the past four years Galbraith had a number of public disputes with Windham County's other Senator, Jeanette White of Putney, including a disagreement during the last session over a campaign finance bill.
Galbraith, who called the pending bill at the time a "sham," was accused by Sen. Philip Baruth, D-Chittenden, of speaking "tediously" on the bill.
"Everybody knew that we had our ups and downs, but I do wish him well," White said Monday after Galbraith made his announcement. "It is a hard and thankless job and no matter what you believe there is always going to be someone who thinks the opposite. He is a very quick thinker. He is definitely committed to his positions but maybe Vermont was too small a stage for him."
In 2012 he abruptly resigned from the Senate Committee on Government Operations over a similar campaign finance bill, a move which other lawmakers called unprecedented.
"We wish Peter Galbraith the best in his future pursuits," said Vermont Democratic Party Spokesman Ben Sarle.
Becca Balint, from Brattleboro, and Joan Bowman, of Putney, have both announced that they will be seeking a seat in the Senate this year.
White filed her paper work for the Senate seat she has held since 2003, but she has not yet formally announced her candidacy.
Galbraith admitted to experiencing disappointment during his four years in the Statehouse, but said that was an expected part of the democratic process.
He maintains that Vermont's campaign finance law does not go far enough to keep corporate money out of Vermont politics and he said an amendment he wanted to include in a natural resources bill to protect forested land was scuttled by a developer with deep pockets.
"It is part of the process to raise big issues and you can't except to get everything done in one go-around," he said. "It is an ongoing process. Of course I've had frustrations but it is my job to raise issues and as people go forward they continue to think about it."
Galbraith said he was proud of the bills he did help to get passed, including one that opens the door for a 5 megawatt net-metered solar facility in Windham County.
He also said he worked hard to stabilize Vernon's tax rate as Vermont Yankee prepares to shut down and said the bill he introduced to ban fracking made Vermont the first state to do so.
"I want to thank the voters of Windham County for the trust they have placed in me. I have tried to be an independent and common sense voice on your behalf," Galbraith said. "I have been involved with public life for 29 years and it has been my greatest honor to be elected. Being appointed to a position is very special, but being elected by my fellow citizens is very different and it is something I have always wanted to do."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.