Londonderry Progressive seeks three-county House seat


LONDONDERRY -- There is only one candidate on the Aug. 26 primary ballot for the Windham-Bennington-Windsor state House District.

But Progressive Teresa Ellsworth knows that she will face opposition from independent candidate -- and former legislator -- Oliver Olsen in the November general election.

So the Londonderry resident already is out talking to residents, even though the sprawling, three-county district doesn't lend itself to easy canvassing.

"I'm going to reach as many people as I can," Ellsworth said. "I'm going to be out there, and I'm going to be listening."

The Windham-Bennington-Windsor District consists of Jamaica, Londonderry, Stratton, Weston and Winhall. The district currently is represented by Independent Tom Goodwin from Weston.

Goodwin announced in March that he would not seek another term. Simultaneously, he endorsed Olsen, a Londonderry resident who had served the district as a Republican from 2010 to 2012. As an independent candidate, Olsen doesn't run in the primary.

The only other candidate to file for the seat is Ellsworth, a former New York state resident who has relocated to Vermont with her husband. She works from home as an account manager for an energy-efficient lighting company.

Ellsworth said her previous political experience was an unsuccessful run for tax collector in the New York town of Lewisboro. But she said she has a keen interest in the Green Mountain State's political process.

"I've been watching, and I'm very interested in politics. I've spent some time in Montpelier with the Progressive Party. I just feel like I belong there, and I can do a lot for the people," she said.

Among the issues that interest Ellsworth:

-- Transitioning to universal, publicly financed health care.

Ellsworth said she has personal experience with the benefits of what's been labeled "ObamaCare" at the federal level, and she is a strong supporter of Vermont's efforts to transition to a single-payer system over the next several years.

"It may be bumpy in the beginning, but everybody wants it," she said. "I would love to see everybody have that opportunity, and it can be done. We're a small enough state to make it work."

-- Environmental issues.

Specifically, Ellsworth said she's concerned about the impact of climate change and the severe weather that has resulted. She's also worried about the impacts of what she sees as relatively rapid development happening in her district.

"It's good for the tax base, but we need to be very aware of why Vermont is such a beautiful place," she said.

-- The minimum wage.

The state Legislature in the 2014 session approved a bill boosting Vermont's minimum wage to $10.50 per hour by 2018. Ellsworth said that's "a start," but she believes the wage might be raised still further.

She noted that the federal minimum wage is still just $7.25 hourly.

Boosting the minimum wage "raises your tax base. It creates consumers," Ellsworth said. "It's just a no-brainer. People can't live on $7.25 an hour. It's impossible."

Other priorities for Ellsworth include affordable child care; equal pay for equal work; and farm-to-table programs. The latter issue is big in Vermont, and it has come to Ellsworth's attention through work she has done in the restaurant business.

In Vermont, "we seem to be so forward-thinking in so many ways," Ellsworth said. "I'm so happy to be part of that, and I want to be a part of that (in state government)."

Mike Faher can be reached at or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.


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