Republican seeks write-in votes

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VERNON — Patrick Gilligan is asking voters to write his name on the ballot when they vote for state representative for Windham-1 in the primary election on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old hopes to take over the seat being vacated by Mike Hebert, another Republican from Vernon.

"I think it's time for change up in Montpelier, particularly young people getting involved," Gilligan said in an interview. "And I'd like to change Vermont's direction from big government to smaller government, where people can have more personal freedoms and equal opportunities and we can lower taxes."

Having received a bachelor's degree in political science and economics at Castleton University, Gilligan has taken an admission test with the goal of attending Vermont Law School in the summer and fall. That way he can be at the Statehouse during the legislative sessions. He currently works as a carpenter.

Gilligan said he is dedicated to making improvements in Vermont, where his family has lived for six generations.

"I guess we love the Green Mountain State," he said.

Prior to being the first in his family to run for public office, Gilligan started a Republicans club at Castleton. He helped moderate the debate on campus between gubernatorial candidates Sue Minter and Phil Scott.

Gilligan plans to talk with farmers from Vernon and Guilford, the two towns his district covers, about what concerns them.

"I'm seeking advice from small and large farmers," he wrote in campaign literature.

Gilligan called the Act 46 legislation urging school districts to merge "quite the controversial issue." He said he is a firm believer in school choice; residents should be able to send their children to whatever school they like. He went to Vernon Elementary School then Brattleboro Union High School.

The only part of the new gun legislation passed last session that Gilligan did not favor was changing the minimum age from 18 to 21 for purchasing firearms without passing a hunter safety course. Otherwise, he supports current laws on open and concealed firearms, background checks with the exclusion of transfers within families, making it easier for law enforcement officers to seize guns from those who are deemed an "extreme risk" by a judge and allowing police to take firearms from the scene of a violent domestic incident.

On taxing and regulating marijuana, Gilligan's biggest worry is keeping the roads safe from vehicle operators driving under the influence. He said he is in favor of medical marijuana.

Gilligan said he is "all for the decommissioning" of nuclear plant Vermont Yankee by NorthStar, the company pledging to do so at a quicker pace than the current owner Entergy.

"It's necessary for Vernon to move forward into the future," he said. "Because however you look at it, Vermont Yankee is not coming back and reopening."

It is important to Gilligan that the decommissioning happen fast but safely, he said, "and that means holding NorthStar accountable."

Gilligan said he would like to totally revamp Vermont's tax codes in a way that favors workers. He hopes to get rid of the state income tax, the tax on social security, pensions and the state's inheritance tax. That, he said, would make it so "more people can purchase things and just keep the money moving."

Mental health services and opioid treatment are other big issues for Gilligan. He said he wants to allocate resources to people in both camps.

"I am opposed to an individual mandate for health insurance," his campaign literature says. "I support health insurance price caps. I support price caps on medication."

Sara Coffey, of Guilford, is running as a Democrat for the same seat. Gilligan said he has not yet had the chance to talk with her or debate. He said he was encouraged by Hebert to run.

Hebert recently called attention to Gilligan seeking the Republican nomination during the Aug. 14 primary election.

"Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond his control, Patrick was unable to complete the petition process to have his name placed on the ballot," Hebert write in a letter to the editor. "He is asking you to request a Republican ballot and write his name in for the state representative position."

Hebert asked voters to do the same. He described Gilligan as "a bright, articulate, considerate and honest young man with the drive and dedication to represent our communities effectively."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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