Brattleboro woman seeks Senate seat
BRATTLEBORO -- Becca Balint's Twitter profile includes a variety of descriptive labels -- writer, coach, speaker, organizer and mom.
She also lists "politician," a field the Brattleboro woman is diving into with a just-announced Democratic bid for a Windham County state Senate seat.
Balint said she has worn a variety of hats that would allow her to represent the county in Montpelier. She believes she is a good listener who also has a good handle on Windham County's problems and assets.
"I love the idea of being a conduit through which people can communicate with their government," Balint said. "I want people to feel like I'm watching out for their needs, because I'm an average person from Windham County."
Windham County is represented by Democratic state Sens. Jeanette White of Putney and Peter Galbraith of Townshend. Both are expected to run for new terms this year.
Also previously announcing a Democratic candidacy is Joan Bowman of Putney. So Balint's candidacy puts four names on the Aug. 26 Democratic primary ballot.
"What I see as my strengths as a candidate are those things that I see as strengths in my career -- having been an educator in Windham County, and understanding what families go through just to get their kids fed and clothed and out the door to school," she said.
Balint said she spent most of her career as an educator, having worked in Londonderry, Marlboro and Guilford schools as well as Community College of Vermont.
She no longer teaches but now is a "coach" -- also defined as a consultant.
"Right now, I'm mostly working with writers and educators to figure out the next steps in their professions. It's difficult sometimes for people to sort that out themselves," she said.
Balint also is busy as a mother to her two children, as a writer and as a member of several civic organizations: She is a Brattleboro Town Meeting representative, a member of the town's Development Review Board and has participated in workforce development efforts for Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies.
The region's economy is a prime concern for Balint. She is concerned about a "shrinking middle class," an aging population and the loss of young people who see little economic opportunity here.
"There's that tension in Vermont -- we don't want to lose this beautiful quality of place we have," Balint said. "But I think we've lost our way a little bit in thinking that we can't maintain quality of place and also figure out ways for people to earn a decent living."
Balint said she wants to see the region capitalize on strengths such as the green-jobs sector, mental-health services and a thriving community of artists, musicians and writers. For the latter segment, "I'd love to see them really embrace themselves as entrepreneurs," Balint said.
Balint also wants to strengthen ties between schools and local employers, providing more "really clear pathways" for students who might otherwise look elsewhere for work.
She acknowledges that these are in-depth, likely lengthy projects. But as a runner, Balint believes local leaders "need to give some careful thought to how we run this marathon."
Part of that race also is the state's push toward universal access to high-speed Internet.
"We've got pockets in so many towns that don't have clear and strong access to the Internet," Balint said. "How can we have an entrepreneurial culture -- how can we have cottage industries -- if people aren't hooked to the Web?"
Balint said she is interested in "really raising the profile of Windham County. We're an amazing corner of Vermont."
Given the challenges here, she added, "It would be really easy to get discouraged, but this kind of situation really energizes me because there's so much potential for creativity and collaboration."
More information on Balint's candidacy is available on her website, beccabalintforvtsenate.com.
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.
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