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There’s a sea change taking place in Montpelier.

At least 11 of the 30 state senators are stepping down, including Senate President Pro Tem Rebecca Balint, D-Windham, who is leaving to run for Congress, and Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham. Sen. Anthony Pollina, P/D-Washington, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, is leaving after 12 years in the Senate — a voice lost for the Progressive agenda on issues like universal health care and free public college.

In the House, more than half the committee chairs are leaving, including the heads of the Appropriations and Ways and Means committees — arguably the most powerful committees because they oversee the tax-and-spend issues. And Republicans are losing a strong voice in that chamber, with Stowe {span}Rep. Heidi Scheuermann not seeking reelection. {/span}

It’s only May; more may follow.

Clearly legislating during a pandemic took its toll on lawmakers. Studying and discussing legislation on Zoom as a committee or full chamber was challenging, with technology glitching and some people having limited access to the online format. And because legislators and the public were not meeting together in the Statehouse, informal conversations about bills that typically take place in the halls and cafeteria — providing lawmakers with extra insight to issues — weren’t taking place.

Also, not meeting together during the day, sharing drinks and meals in the evening, made it easier for misunderstandings to fester and harder for legislators to reconnect as friends and co-workers after policy and personal skirmishes.

Other factors are also at play. Several statewide offices opened up for the first time in a long time, with Attorney General T.J. Donovan stepping down, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch running for the U.S. Senate, Lt. Gov. Molly Gray leaving that job to run for Congress, and more.

That’s opened the floodgates for potential candidates who have been anxiously waiting to jump into the political waters.

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Phil Scott, who has extensive experience in the Vermont Senate, as lieutenant governor and for the last six years as governor (and is seeking reelection), noted the significance of this loss of institutional knowledge of the issues and the inner workings of the Legislature and state government. Especially at a time, he said, when Vermont will be losing federal COVID funding and the nation might be heading toward recession.

He’s half right. Our experienced lawmakers and statewide officers have served us well and we sincerely thank those departing for their often thankless work and long hours on behalf of our communities and state.

But … this is democracy. Leaders come and go. Long-timers step aside for a new generation of fresh thinkers to bring new ideas to the table.

The experienced perspective is welcome; there is no need to reinvent the wheel. But eventually it’s time for brand news voices at the table. That time is now.

Given the robust political season brewing in advance of the August primaries and November general elections, we look forward to hearing what candidates of all stripes think about easing Vermont’s housing crisis, attracting young families and workers to the state, tackling our growing substance abuse and mental health issues, and making sure all of our children receive a top-notch education.

Locally, let’s ask about ideas for reducing homelessness, supporting job and downtown growth, ensuring southern Vermonters can afford a safe home or apartment, and making sure our counties are at the table when the state and federal budget negotiations are taking shape.

Fortunately there will still be a fair share of experience guiding work in Montpelier. Bennington Sens. Dick Sears and Brian Campion have announced they hope to return to the Statehouse, for example.

But after November, we also look forward to a new generation of bright, energetic and creative public servants taking seats at the table to help our state navigate some of the existing and upcoming challenges.