Pillsbury faces Bigelow for Windham-3-2 seat
While scrubbing pots and pans at a local eatery, Bigelow is glad to discuss his politics with anyone who might ask about them. Though he said, "I certainly believe in a lot of causes," he is "running for fun."
Bigelow, from Randolph, is a 2002 BUHS graduate and has never held public office.
Until last year's elections, when friends and acquaintances wrote his name in for four different elected positions, he hadn't really considered running for office either.
"But I had the most write-in votes than anybody," he said. "I was surprised, but it made me think I should run for something."
Pillsbury applauded Bigelow's campaign to unseat him, saying that's what the citizen Legislature is all about, and why he ran six years ago.
"No contest should go without an opponent," he said. "Voters should have a choice."
Pillsbury, who is a maintenance worker at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, said he relates well to the common person because "I come from the streets."
Pillsbury, an independent who has represented Brattleboro in the Legislature for the past six years, said he first became involved in politics because of his concern over the costs of the renovation and repairs at BUHS. Since then, he has served as the vice chairman of the committee on institutes and corrections, which he called a "real bricks and mortar" committee.
He said before getting involved in politics, he felt he, and other people like him, were not being heard in Montpelier.
"When I first got involved, I had a lot to say but nobody took me seriously," he said. "Now my voice matters. I am the voice for people who don't have a voice."
Bigelow said that is what is attractive about the citizen legislator tradition of Vermont, which he called government for the average man.
"I represent a certain part of the youth culture of Brattleboro," whose voices aren't normally heard in the Statehouse, said Bigelow.
Bigelow believes as a legislator, he might be able to change some of the debate in Montpelier. He would also promote programs that support arts and events in the Brattleboro community.
He said, if voters send him to Montpelier, they would be sending a strong supporter of affordable housing, which he said "would help the community grow."
"There is a huge amount of homeless youth who need help with affordable housing," he said. He added that those youth need help finding entry-level work and learning skills that employers are looking for.
"And not just in high-tech," he said, insisting that lots of people his age would do unskilled labor around the community if they got paid for it.
Bigelow would like to see the state prepare a better emergency evacuation plan for the area and is also in favor of decommissioning the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in 2012.
Though Pillsbury understands his constituents' concerns over the Vermont Yankee power plant, "until we find other resources, Vermont Yankee will continue to churn."
Pillsbury said he would like to see education funding be more sensitive to income and not so dependent on property taxes.
"We have got to protect our folks who have been in their homes all their lives," said Pillsbury.
Pillsbury believes consolidation of schools is a "local issue," but he added, "We are spending too much per pupil."
Bigelow said, though he has heard people are upset about their property taxes and education spending, he admitted he wasn't versed enough in the issue to comment.
Pillsbury urged Bigelow to stay involved, despite the outcome of next week's election.
"If you're disenfranchised, change your attitude and get involved," he said. "You can make a difference."
Pillsbury hopes voters return him to Montpelier so he can continue his work helping the average Vermonter.
"Though I am particularly proud of getting the money owed to us by the state for the school," said Pillsbury, "most of the stuff I am proud of is little things," including preventing anti-gay rights protesters from picketing the funerals of soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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