TOWNSHEND -- Roger Allbee's run for state Senate is all about experience.
That's not to say he has experience as a legislator. Rather, Allbee believes his leadership positions -- he is chief executive officer of Grace Cottage Hospital and the former state Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets -- has prepared him to serve Windham County as a lawmaker.
"I have always found a way to bring people with differing viewpoints together to get a mix of ideas and approaches to work through issues. It leads to much better solutions," Allbee said Tuesday in announcing his candidacy.
"With my background, depth of experience, energy, time -- and, most of all, encouragement of my friends and family -- I strongly believe that my time in the Legislature will be beneficial to my constituents and fellow Vermonters.
Allbee is vying for one of two Democratic nominations available in the August 26 primary, joining incumbent state Sen. Jeanette White and challengers Becca Balint and Joan Bowman. Incumbent Windham County Sen. Peter Galbraith, also a Democrat, this week announced that he will not seek a new term.
Allbee, a Brookline native and a Townshend resident, says his decision to run "took a lot of thought and contemplation." But he is serious enough about the Legislature that, if elected, Allbee plans to leave his Grace Cottage post before being sworn into the Senate in January.
"I've indicated to the (hospital) board that ... I certainly would continue here if I were elected until the end of December," Allbee said.
He wants to go to Montpelier at a critical time: Vermont is attempting to implement universal, publicly financed health care, and Allbee says he has first-hand experience on that issue as a hospital administrator.
"This issue is going to be very defining -- I think we all want affordable health care," Allbee said.
He also noted his interest in other legislative issues.
"The upcoming legislative session may be the most consequential since the one that passed Act 250 in 1970," Allbee said. "I am committed to an issues-oriented campaign around sustainable funding for health-care reform, education, property tax relief, environmental issues including protecting our forests, job creation for our young people and increasing our high-tech competitiveness."
On the technology front, Allbee said he is involved in VIEWBOOST, a rural tourism application for mobile devices that is using Vermont as a model.
Allbee has a long history of interest in agricultural issues. His education includes a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics from the University of Vermont and a master's degree in the same field from the University of Massachusetts. He also has completed the Cornell University Agricultural Executives Program and the Harvard Business School Agribusiness Seminars.
From 2007 to 2010, he served as state Agriculture secretary. Allbee also noted that he was an "early advocate for the Working Landscape Initiative in Vermont for agriculture and forestry" -- an effort that has resulted in a popular state grant program.
Additionally, Allbee said he served as an adviser to the president of Vermont Technical College on creation of an Institute for Applied Agriculture and Food Systems, and he is chairman of the Advisory Committee to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Vermont.
Allbee has established a campaign website at www.allbeeforsenate.com.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.