HALIFAX — Running for the Windham-6 seat in the House of Representatives, Amy Kamstra is dropping off flyers at homes and talking with local residents if they step outside so she can better understand the issues they’re facing.
“I feel like I could help the community,” she said. “It will be a learning curve, there’s no doubt.”
To get local feedback, Kamstra said she would speak with her constituents about proposals being heard in the Statehouse.
Her name appears on the Nov. 3 ballot. The Republican is challenging incumbent John Gannon, a Democrat.
Kamstra has lived in Halifax full time for about three-and-a-half years after buying land in town eight or nine years ago. She works as a part-time bank teller at People’s United Bank in Wilmington and her husband is a corporate lawyer.
The couple previously lived in a small town in New Jersey right outside of Philadelphia.
They built a house on a 100-acre property. They have a farm with goats and chickens, and plan to get pigs.
“I think we would like to be more than a step above hobby farming,” Kamstra said.
The goal is to have one “really good crop” and cows raised for beef. Kamstra said the couple recently grew a bunch of garlic.
For about 28 years, Kamstra was employed as a professional liability risk manager at Cigna Corp. She said she took a layoff package the year before moving to Halifax and put her energy into earning a master’s degree in sustainable food systems from Green Mountain College.
Kamstra wanted to work at the local bank to meet people.
“It’s been awesome,” she said.
Her decision to run for office had to do with the education system. She said she went to town meetings regarding how the merger between Halifax and Readsboro school districts wasn’t working out.
Kamstra believes if she had been in town earlier, she could have helped evaluate the risk of the merger.
“I was like, I could really help here,” she said, “because that’s what I did in my old job.”
Kamstra said neighbors suggested she run for the position after feeling like Gannon didn’t help with the school situation. The merged district is now in the process of splitting up after getting a greenlight from the State Board of Education.
Gannon said he’s been fighting for equity in schools and the merger came about because of Act 46, a law that predated his service in the Legislature and he described being no fan of.
Kamstra predicts changes will continue in schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In her district, she noted out-of-state residents are buying up a lot of properties in Wilmington.
“If they stay, we’re going to have this influx of children,” she said. “It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Will it only happen for a year or two? We don’t know.”
One large concern for her is the state’s aging population. She said the average age in Vermont is 51 and only 20 percent of the state is younger than 20.
“That’s so not like most of the United States,” she said.
Kamstra worries about the impact on health and medical systems as well as the workforce. She has concerns about issues related to access and mobility for seniors.
With the Walgreens pharmacy now closed on Sundays, Kamstra said, “What are you supposed to do? There need to be alternatives.”
She’s also advocating for finding more opportunities to offer holistic care and wellness activities in the area.
Kamstra believes a 2017 state law regarding oil tank inspections needs to be tweaked. She said businesses required to inspect the tanks are likely to be the same ones fixing or replacing them.
“If they don’t red tag it and it doesn’t make it through the winter, they’re the ones responsible for repairing or replacing it,” she said. “So they’re kind of stuck as well. There’s a ton of people who have had to get new oil tanks. It’s gotten to be a bit of a disaster.”