Joint Statement on Endorsements

Rep. Kathleen James and Seth Bongartz: Joint Statement on Endorsements in Bennington-4 House of Representatives Race

October 5, 2020

We’re not surprised that Governor Scott has endorsed Rep. Browning, just as he’s endorsed many Republicans across the state. Rep. Browning knows she’s lost the support not only of many Democrats — here in our district and among her statehouse colleagues— but of many residents in our communities who have serious questions about her leadership. She is hoping that Governor Scott’s seal of approval will help.

We raise this issue not to be negative, nor to dredge up old news. Frankly, it is not fun to do so. We have tried to run a positive campaign. Unfortunately, Cynthia’s leadership skills are a central issue in this campaign by necessity, and something voters need to seriously consider when they think about how our district can recover and thrive in the hard years ahead. We didn’t make it that way. Time and again, she did.

In March, Rep. Browning needlessly called a quorum, requiring legislators to return to the House chamber just days after Governor Scott had issued his order for Vermonters to shelter in place. While Cynthia had a right to stand by her principles, she blindsided legislative leaders from all parties who had worked diligently for days to create a safe and transparent proxy voting process in the face of a pandemic. Instead of communication, she chose chaos. She then cast the lone “no” vote, opposing the legislature’s ability to work remotely. If this outlier position had prevailed, the legislature would have been hamstrung in its ability to produce the FY21 budget, let alone disburse hundreds of millions of dollars in desperately needed COVID aid.

In Montpelier, plenty of legislators care deeply about the democratic process. They think and act independently, and they vote in the best interest of their constituents. They also do that while working well with others and producing results. This is not unique, and it’s certainly not an either-or choice. And the quorum call was not a one-off mistake, but the most recent and egregious example of the notoriously inflexible approach that Rep. Browning has been bringing to her legislative work for a long time.

That’s why it’s especially telling that we’ve been endorsed by Southern Vermont’s two Independent legislators, Reps. Laura Sibilia of Dover and Kelly Pajala of Londonderry. We’ve also been endorsed by a respected former legislator, Rep. Jeff Wilson of Manchester, who served on the influential Ways and Means Committee and knows a thing or two about economics and being effective in Montpelier. We’re also endorsed by Rep. Tim Briglin of Thetford, the chair of the House Energy and Technology Committee, who supports our campaign and our focus on broadband, the environment and climate action. We’re also grateful for the support of Congressman Peter Welch and Senator Patrick Leahy.

All of these legislators underscore what we bring to the table: An ability to communicate, to collaborate, to listen and to work well with others.